Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Something Old, Something New

On Sunday, halfway across the world, 19-year old Rory McIlroy delivered a championship in Dubai that reinforced the notion he may be golf’s next international star.
In another desert, surrounded by a smaller than normal but still noisy Phoenix crowd, 48-year old Kenny Perry won his fourth tournament since May and reminded us that he’s not going anywhere, at least not for a while.
So there was something new and something old. Now if we can just find something borrowed and something blue…
Neither McIlroy nor Perry finished in grand style. McIlroy bogeyed the 15th, 16th and 17th holes to throw his victory in doubt before making a nerve-testing up-and-down from a bunker to win in Dubai.
Perry, meanwhile, seemed to go an hour between pars but somehow still beat the haircut-challenged Charley Hoffman for his 13th career win.
Though separated by 29 years, McIlroy and Perry are separated by only seven spots on the official World Golf Rankings. Perry jumped back into the top 10 at No. 9 while McIlroy is now the 16th-ranked player in the world.
McIlroy looks like the next great player to emerge from Great Britain. He’s good enough that his fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington has said he’d be willing to pay to watch McIlroy play.
We’re going to get a look at him soon when he plays a handful of PGA Tour events leading to the Masters and beyond. It’s possible McIlroy will play the Verizon Heritage at Hilton Head and Wachovia Championship officials would like to have him at Quail Hollow.
Meanwhile, anyone who figured Perry would gracefully fade away into the Kentucky sunset after his inspiring Ryder Cup appearance last fall is mistaken. His 13th career victory has him looking for more. “I set a goal out there that’s probably unrealistic and unreachable, yet here I am,” Perry told reporters after his victory. “I’m only seven away now, not eight. So you never know.”
While McIlroy’s story is just beginning, Perry’s obviously isn’t ready to end.