After winning his first major championship at 21 years old, Tiger Woods accepted his prized Green Jacket from ’96 champ Nick Faldo at the 1997 Masters Tournament. From there, Woods quickly catapulted himself into the national spotlight, rapidly becoming one of the best golfers in the history of the sport.
However, serious doubts have been cast about the 36-year-old superstar’s future prospects. Never having fully recovered from public judgment about his infamous extramarital affairs, Woods struggles to put together two consecutive solid performances in tournaments. He hasn’t won a major championship since the 2008 U.S. Open.
In the past year, Rory McIlroy, who is currently ranked number one in the world, has stolen much of the spotlight. Crowned champion at the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship, McIlroy won his first two majors at a younger age than Tiger Woods was when he won his first major championship. According to many fans and analysts, McIlroy has the talent to become the sport’s next superstar. Right now, he has the momentum to win a few majors. Many say he has already dethroned Tiger and is the new face of golf.
Greg Norman, who held the world’s number one rank for six years in the 1980s and ’90s, gave his opinion about Tiger Woods in a Fox Sports interview this past week.
“What I’m seeing is that Tiger’s really intimidated by Rory,” Norman said. “When have you ever seen him intimidated by another player? Never. But I think he knows his time’s up, and that’s normal. These things tend to go in 15-year cycles.”
Norman’s comments have sparked controversy and set social media outlets ablaze, but nevertheless, many share his views.
“How can I intimidate Tiger Woods?” McIlroy said when asked to respond to Norman’s words. “He’s been the biggest thing ever in our sport. How could some little 23-year-old from Northern Ireland with a few wins come up and intimidate him?”
In an interview of his own, Woods dismissed the intimidation theory as well. He said golf is an individual sport based on one’s own mental and physical toughness.
Tiger Woods’ career is anything but over. Jack Nicklaus, who holds the record with 18 majors, won his last majors championship when he was 10 years older than Tiger is now. With 14 under his belt, Woods still has plenty of time to catch that record and will determine his own fate on the course. When he finally does hang up his clubs, he will be remembered as one of golf’s most successful and skilled athletes.
And while McIlroy has everything going for him at the moment: physicality, momentum and media support with nowhere to go but up, Woods is far from finished.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 27 print edition. Karthik Ramakrishnan is a staff writer. Email her at email@example.com.
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