As Rory McIlroy triumphantly trod the fairways and greens of The Congressional CC where the US Open was palyed last week, chants of ‘Lets go, Rory. Let’s go Rory’ resounded throughout the course. This spontaneous outbreak started me thinking about fame and celebrity. Not to diminish Charl Schwarztel’s victory at this year’s Masters and Louis Oosthuizen’s British Open triumph last year, but, I’m fairly certain no one in those crowds were chanting ‘Let’s Go Charl’ or ‘Let’s Go Louis’. So what was it about young Mr. McIlroy that so ignited the crowd?
We could start with Rory being the sentimental favorite after his Master’s back-nine meltdown this year, but, I’m sure others have suffered such indignation and have rebounded nicely with very little fanfare. No, I think it is more than sentiment. Maybe it is his puck-ish good looks and aw-shucks appeal, but, others fit this discription and they were never hoisted to the top of the pedestal. Maybe it’s the combination of his nice-guy demeanor and incredible talent, but, again, others have been blessed with these attributes without finding themselves being sereneded by the masses. So, while I think all of these things contributed to the adulation he received from the crowd, I believe it is something more than meets the eye.
The last golfer (and maybe sports star) to achieve such praise was Tiger Woods and while Rory seems like the antithesis of Tiger Woods, they probably have more in common than most would think. While Tiger is passion personified and Rory seems like the kid brother of Cool Hand Luke, I believe they both possess the drive (and the ability) to be the best at what they do. Being so young when they exploded on the golfing scene with performances that almost defied discription, they epitomized potential and hope in a time and place where all of that seems to be sorely lacking. It would seem appropriate to call them modern day heroes; a commodity that is always in short supply.
Yet, in the end, we are still not able to pick out the famous from the also-rans. As we have learned from American Idol and other such non-sensical shows, fame cannot be bestowed on someone. Fame is the silent stalker that enters someone’s life in the dead of night and annoits them the ‘chosen one’. That person can be a sport’s figure, a movie star or a politician, but, fame is never theirs for the asking; it is their’s for the taking.
Will Rory keep ascending to the heights that those in golfing have already assigned him? Only time will tell. But, if he does, I believe in the years to come, he will easily supplant Tiger in the upper most eschelons of the golf world.
So, for now, all I can say is, ‘Let’s Go Rory!’.