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June 21 2011

8:25 PM

McIlroy draws comparisons to Norman

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Rory McIlroy's performance in the U.S. Open still has players buzzing.

By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM

CROMWELL, Conn. -- Rory McIlroy’s performance at the U.S. Open has drawn comparisons to Tiger Woods and his 2000 victory at Pebble Beach. Geoff Ogilvy, however, compares McIlroy to Greg Norman -- not for his Masters meltdown, but for his ball-striking and ability off the tee.

“He hit 62 of 72 greens at the U.S. Open,” Ogilvy said Thursday from the Travelers Championship, where players were still buzzing over McIlroy’s victory at Congressional. “There’s no way I could ever do that. Not too many people can do that, especially after the Masters when everyone probably would have given him the year off.

“Two months later he was playing like it never happened. Amazing. It’s Greg Norman ‘86 type stuff; he’s just clearly better than anyone else. There’s so few really class ball-strikers out here -- I know that sounds silly but real class ball strikers like Nick Price and Greg Norman. It’s Greg Norman in the mid-80s is who he is. He just completely outplays everyone with no fear. Some people are being aggressive and they’re just cavalier. He’s not cavalier.”

Ogilvy should know. He had a view of McIlroy from two groups behind him the first two days of the U.S. Open. Ogilvy also played against and beat him in 2009 on his way to winning the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship and later that year was paired with McIlroy in the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions, where McIlroy nearly came from nowhere to win the tournament with a Sunday 63.

“I played well and I birdied 15, 16 and 17 and didn’t win any of them,” Ogilvy said of the WGC-Accenture Match Play. “To be 2 up with four to play and go birdie, birdie, birdie and not win a hole was pretty unbelievable.

“I remember I closed out the match and my caddie and I jumped in the van that takes you back to the clubhouse and we both just looked at each other and said this guy’s unbelievable.”

Ian Poulter took it a step further.

“He’s as good a ball-striker as I’ve ever seen,” Poulter said.

“He swings it naturally. There’s not much technically he needs to worry about.”

Poulter added that he also wasn’t surprised that McIlroy bounced back from his heartbreak at the Masters and that he did so in resounding fashion.

“Look at his first rounds in majors,” Poulter said. “It was a case of when, not if.”

Now it will be a case of not when but how many.

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