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McIlroy, Spieth can lead the post Tiger era

By: John Galletley

For over a decade, Tiger Woods was the sole golfer keeping the sport relevant and raising it to a new level of popularity. With Tiger’s fall from glory, some people questioned how relevant the sport would be without him at the top. From what we have seen lately, golf fans should be optimistic about the sport being relevant without Woods.

At 26-years-old, Rory McIlroy still have his best golf ahead of him but is already one of the most popular players in the world.

At 26-years-old, Rory McIlroy still have his best golf ahead of him but is already one of the most popular players in the world.

One thing that made Woods so illustrious for golf is that he was so much better than everybody else. This made him interesting to follow. He also had a charisma and swagger that put a fear into the golfers around him. Woods undoubtedly attracted people to the sport, but those people only came to watch him.

Woods being so dominant did not allow some fans to learn about the other golfers because some people might have felt they were irrelevant. Woods was always the storyline and seemed to always be winning. He was so far ahead of everybody else that nobody else seemed too important to keep an eye on.

This era of golf is heading towards a much more competitive duo of stars in Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth that have the potential to be one of golf’s greatest rivalries. McIlroy is only 26 and Spieth is even younger at 21. Despite their youth, both have a proven road of success with the two of them holding the last four major titles and both of them winning consecutive ones.

While these two have not had that special head-to-head battle yet, they make an impact when they are out there. These are currently the world’s top two golfers in the World Golf Rankings and also have the ability to drive ratings. When McIlroy won by eight strokes in the 2011 US Open, NBC had a 5.1 rating. When Martin Kaymer ran away with the 2014 US Open, there was just a 3.3 rating.

Clearly, these golfers have the ability to attract viewers. McIlroy has had this for a few years and with Spieth’s recent success, he will most likely join McIlroy with that ability. Golf has not really had two stars on such a high level since Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

Jordan Spieth has already proven he is one of the best golfers in the world at only 21-years-old.

Jordan Spieth has already proven he is one of the best golfers in the world at only 21-years-old.

After reading that paragraph, people may ask what about Phil Mickelson? Yes, he has a decent fanbase and some treat him as Woods’ rival or opposite, but the fact is people were not changing the channel to watch Mickelson. The best thing he served as was Woods’ closest competitor and Woods still had almost double the win total that Mickelson had. This is not to say that Mickelson is not one of the better golfers of all-time, but the simple fact is it was never about him in his glory days, it was about Woods.

The beauty about a potential McIlroy-Spieth rivalry is that these two seem to be on an even playing field. They may not ever be as talented as Woods and Mickelson, but they can still be high quality golfers and entertain people with their competitiveness.

There is also the fact that if they do not end up being so far above everybody else like Woods but are still the best of the best, you can have other young golfers and solid veterans make interesting runs at them. Golfers like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, Bubba Watson, Jason Day, Hideki Matsuyama, and Rickie Fowler all have a chance to get their names in the spotlight as some of the talented golfers in that next tier.

Woods has fallen from glory over the last six years and most people question whether he will ever be relevant again. If he does not ever become relevant again, golf without a doubt has a future of young talent ready to keep the sport alive.

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Want to talk sports? John Galletley is the man to go to. He has been following sports of all kinds since he was a child but had a first love for baseball being in a family of Yankees fans. He also loves to travel and has used sports in order to do this including taking several road trips to MLB stadiums and other sports venues. John has always dreamed of working in the sports world and wants to make his way there as a writer in order to follow the philosophy of never working a day in your life if you love what you do.

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