Comparisons to Tiger Woods are unavoidable, given Rory McIlroy's ascent to No. 1 in the World Ranking and the dominance with which he is flirting. Context advises caution, however, notwithstanding the similarities: At 23, each won the PGA Championship, the second major for both, and each was named the PGA Tour player of the year.
McIlroy might be close to matching strides with Woods at a similar age, but Tiger had located a gear that separated him from history. In 1999, at 23, he won eight times. The following year, he won 10, including three major championships. The curve rapidly got steeper.
But context is no fun, unlike McIlroy, who exudes an infectious joy. In this regard, McIlroy has separated himself from Woods. Tiger's unsurpassed talent gave us a multitude of reasons to admire him, but none to embrace him. He steadfastly refused to let the outside world in, even for a glimpse. He named his yacht "Privacy" for a reason.