It's pretty crazy the expectations we have about Rory McIlroy. Just 21 years old, the kid comes to these majors speaking of how he's preparing himself for major championships, and how he molds his year around the big four. We as fans sit there and think McIlroy should be winning the big events, even if he's barely old enough to buy a pint in the states.
Maybe it's because he makes it look so easy. The golf swing is so picture perfect it's almost annoying to watch, and his putting stroke is straight back, straight through, and one that couldn't even spell "yip." As most youngsters are working with 11 different coaches at once, McIlroy is the type of golfer that just tees it up, hits it hard, and tries to find it.
That's what he did on Thursday at Augusta National. A fancy pick by some to contend in just his third Masters, McIlroy fired a 7-under 65, and with most we'd be gushing about the round, but with Rory, the only thing I could think when he tapped in for par on 18 was how low the round could have been. Just a few months ago, at St. Andrews, McIlroy stuck his second shot on the 17th hole in the first round of the British Open to just a couple of feet, but a miss there forced the Northern Irishman to "settle" for a 63, tying the lowest round in major championship history.
His ability to go this low in majors just shows why people have talked about his potential since he was barely a teenager. On Thursday, McIlroy had short birdie putts on 10, 16 and 18 that could have gone in, and that doesn't even include his three-putt on 13. No, you can never be disappointed about a round like 65 at Augusta National, that would be silly, but Rory hit the ball so well in the opening round that a 61 or 62 was very much in the picture.
What does this mean? Well, hopefully he won't repeat what happened at the 2010 British, when he followed up that 63 with an 80, but the fact that he hit the ball exactly where it needed to be on most of the holes is only something he can build on the rest of the week, and when McIlroy gets the putter going, it's nearly like Tiger Woods back in 2001.
He's 21, but his game is miles past that number. Watch out, field.