Fresh off a valiant win in Singapore, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero inadvertently acknowledged the new world order in golf.
“Rory plays a game now that not many of us can match,” he said.
It wasn’t so long ago that such genuflecting was reserved for Tiger Woods.
But as the golf season draws to an end, it’s McIlroy who has won the PGA of America’s Player of the Year title, holds the world No. 1 by a safe margin, has claimed the money titles on both the US and European tours and is a lock to win the PGA Tour Player of the Year.
It’s true that it all looked so different on July 1, when Woods won his third tournament, the AT&T National, and McIlroy was mired in a slump.
But after that, Woods couldn’t close — he finished outside the top 11 only once in seven of his last eight tournaments without winning — and a rejuvenated McIlroy went on a tear, winning the PGA Championship as well as two FedEX Cup playoff events.