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Hold off 'legend' talk, let's just enjoy the kid's talent

Published on Aug 13, 2014 5:34 PM

TROPHIES and coronations, labels and tags, history and hype. Rory McIlroy better be ready for his brave new world. He's played 25 Majors across eight years and brilliantly won four, but in the mad mathematics of golf - with its frantic talk already of a Rory Slam and Next Tiger - some folk are even flirting with 18.

The 18 which took Jack Nicklaus 105 attempts and 24 years to accomplish. The 18 which Tiger Woods, who we insisted was destined to get there, is four short of.

Rory McIlroy - whose calibrated hunting down of Phil Mickelson and Ricky Fowler was majestic - should be allowed to make history at his own stylish pace. To be cherished for what he is, not might be. But no, in all sport we decide a player's future, pick a number for him, then see if he can live up to it. 

In this even Nicklaus, a gentle man of refreshing generosity, did him a disservice. He had praised McIlroy's swing and swagger but also said "I think (he) has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 Majors". In an Internet world of unerasable memory, this line will never die. 

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Background story

Rory McIlroy looks like a kid, played like a champion and spoke like an adult and he's going to need all that for the next two decades: joy, talent, maturity. He also knows this isn't about just him, it's about a sport.