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Talk of ‘Rory era’ gaining steam

Reuters photo Rory McIlroy’s current dominant streak is beginning to resemble Tiger Woods’ glory days.

LOUISVILLE, Ky.  — Talk of the ‘Tiger era’ being replaced by a ‘Rory era’ escalated after Rory McIlroy thrust himself into golf’s pantheon of greats by clinching his fourth major title at the 96th PGA Championship on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman overcame a scrappy start to triumph by one stroke after a final-round shootout on a rain-softened layout ended in near darkness, and the superlatives were once again being heaped upon the 25-year-old .

“It’s beginning to look a little Tiger-esque I suppose,” former U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell said of his fellow Northern Irishman, who has won two majors in just three weeks. “I said to the boys at the (British) Open (where McIlroy won last month), I didn’t think we were going to see the new Tiger era, as in someone creating their own kind of Tiger-esque era just yet.

“I’m not eating my words but I’m certainly starting to chew on them right now.”

McIlroy himself is wary of any hype that golf could now be entering a ‘Rory era’ of individual dominance.

“I try and put all this talk aside every time it comes up,” he said after becoming the fourth youngest player to land four majors, with only Tom Morris Jr., Jack Nicklaus and Woods ahead of him. “Tiger and Jack are two of the most successful players in our sport of all time. I’m on a nice track at the minute. I’ve still got a long way to go, but to be in their company at this age is very special.”

Watson: Ryder Cup up to Tiger

U.S. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson expects Tiger Woods to give an honest assessment of his fitness before he decides whether to make him one of his three wildcard picks for the Sept. 26-28 event against holders Europe.

“I think it really directly comes from Tiger, how he assesses himself, because Tiger, he has a directness to him. He’s just like me. I’m direct and he’s direct,” Watson told a news conference at Valhalla on Monday.

“I can’t assess his medical condition and I honestly can’t assess how he’s playing. It really is going to be having to come from information from Tiger himself.”

Woods is not scheduled to play again before Watson announces the wildcards on Sept. 2, although he could find a tournament to play in to test his form.

“The most important thing is his health,” Watson said, a day after the automatic top-nine selections in his team had been inked in for Gleneagles.

“I’ve said it consistently all the way through the issue with Tiger after his injury. If he’s healthy and is playing well, I’ll pick him. Right now, his health is not good.

“He is Tiger Woods and he brings a lot to the team, if he has the ability to play and he’s healthy. He brings a lot to the team. And I’d be a fool not to consider him.”