At home in Texas, Hunter Mahan burberry handbags outlet turned on the telecast of last Sunday’s final round of the Honda Classic. Never mind that the whole idea behind taking a week off is to untether oneself from the tour.
“I watched a little bit, because I saw Tiger was playing good,” Mahan said.
What if Tiger Woods, who closed with a 62 to tie for second, had been playing poorly? Would Mahan have kept watching?
“No,” he replied with a laugh. “I would have turned it off.”
At No. 10, Mahan is six places ahead of Woods in the world rankings. He has won three times on the PGA Tour since Woods’s last official victory — the 2009 BMW Championship — but has no illusions about his standing.
Woods, who counts 14 major titles among his 71 tour wins, “moves the needle like no one in the game,” Mahan said. “I mean, just when he’s there and when he’s not there, there’s a difference, there just is.”
The buzz created by Woods’s fantastic finish at the Honda Classic translated into the tournament’s highest overnight television ratings burberry beige handbag in a decade and has carried over into this week’s W.G.C.-Cadillac Championship at Doral’s Blue Monster.
The field is comparable to the Masters, with the top 50 golfers among those vying for the $1.4 million winner’s prize. For fans, it is as if the tour’s trade winds have created heavenly conditions: three generations in a competitive swirl.
There are the 40-somethings led by Phil Mickelson and Steve Stricker; the 30-somethings headed by Woods; and the 20-somethings steered by Rory McIlroy, who ascended to No. 1 with his victory in the Honda Classic. In the middle of it all is Woods, who turned pro in 1996 and brought to the tour an attitude and an approach that forever altered the game.
The proof is in Keegan Bradley’s victory in the P.G.A. Championship in his first major appearance; the 21-year-old John Huh’s win at the Mayakoba Golf Classic in his fifth tour start; and most of all, in McIlroy’s ascension to the top spot two months before his 23rd birthday.
When McIlroy took burberry bags leads into the final rounds of last year’s Masters and the United States Open, nobody wondered if he was too young to win. Shortly after Woods, then 20, turned pro, he was interviewed by the two-time major champion, Curtis Strange, who asked what were his immediate goals.
To win, Woods replied. Strange, taken aback, noted that victories were hard to come by on the tour and that second was not a bad finish. “There’s really no point in going if you’re not trying to win,” Woods reiterated, to which Strange smiled and said, “He’ll learn.”
A generation of golfers acquired a fearlessness, a disregard for an age-old pecking order, from watching Woods’s 12-stroke victory at the 1997 Masters. Mahan, who was 14 at the time, said, “I think he just opened the door for our imaginations to run wild.”
He added: “I think his attitude and the way he went about his business opened doors for us to realize that, you know what, we can do anything in burberry sunglasses this game if we want to. We are not held to anyone’s standard.”
McIlroy, who won his first PGA Tour event a few days before his 21st birthday and his first major, the United States Open, a month after turning 22, said, “I’ve never let anyone tell me that I was too young to do this or too young to do that.”
If Woods’s career trajectory crashed through one age barrier, Vijay Singh’s blasted through another. Jack Nicklaus’s win in the 1986 Masters at 46 inspired more awe than ah-ha’s, as other golfers assumed it took the Golden Bear to stave off golf’s golden years. Then along came Singh, who has won 22 of his 34 tour titles since turning 40. In doing so, he has inspired a generation that includes the 45-year-old Stricker.
“When Nicklaus won the Masters at 46, you’re like, ‘How can he do that?’ ” Stricker said. “But I can actually see that happening to players now. I can see them winning late into their 40s.”
Stricker, who has won 9 of his 12 tour titles since his 40th birthday, added: “As players, we’re always looking burberry kids skirts cheap at other players, secretly trying to compare ourselves, compare our games. I was looking at Vijay and saying, ‘Golly, if he can do that into his late 40s, why can’t I?’ ”
Somewhere, surely, a 7-year-old watched McIlroy’s poise under pressure in the final round of the Honda Classic and acquired the confidence to dream big — just as McIlroy did as a child in Northern Ireland watching the telecast of Woods’s 1997 runaway Masters win.
“I remember it quite well, actually,” McIlroy said, adding: “I remember he went out in 40 on Thursday, went back in 30, shot a couple of burberry bags outlet rounds of 65 and 66 on Friday and Saturday. I remember I had the tape of it, and watched that all the time.”
Fast forward to 2012 and the thrills are live. “Golf is in a great place with Rory being No. 1 right now and so many guys up there very, very close,” Mahan said, adding, “it’s pretty fun to be part of.”
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