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If Rory McIlroy completes grand slam it would be greatest achievement by any GB or Irish individual sports person

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If Rory McIlroy completes grand slam it would be greatest achievement by any GB or Irish individual sports person Empty If Rory McIlroy completes grand slam it would be greatest achievement by any GB or Irish individual sports person

Post by McLaren Sat Apr 04, 2015 10:46 am

From the Torygraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/golf/rory-mcilroy/11509198/If-Rory-McIlroy-completes-grand-slam-it-would-be-greatest-achievement-by-any-GB-or-Irish-individual-sports-person.html

James Corrigan wrote:The emergence of a letter written by a nine-year-old Rory McIlroy to Tiger Woods shows that the Northern Irishman always knew how good he would be. Now, if the rest of the United Kingdom would only catch up.

If McIlroy wins next week’s Masters and so, at the age of 25, becomes only the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam then this could be credited as the greatest individual achievement by any Great British or Irish individual sports person. Alas, that claim would likely be shot down in a hail of three-irons.

Sir Steve Redgrave would be the favourite riposte and nobody can, or surely would, deny the merits of the rower with five golds from five consecutive Olympic games. Except, Redgrave was not an “individual” sports person. He had team-mates; sometimes just the one, sometimes three. And although he was the highly uncommon denominator in this glorious quintet he could not have done it without his hombres. Indeed, he would simply have gone around in circles.

Golden boy: Sir Steve Redgrave's five gold medals are a stunning achievement
Cycling is more difficult to categorise. When put alongside his own Olympic successes, Sir Bradley Wiggins’ feat in becoming the first British winner of the Tour de France must rank right up there. But again, Wiggins was part of a team. The domestique bliss of Team Sky was paramount and even in the velodrome this so often applies. Two of Sir Chris Hoy’s six gold medals were earned alongside colleagues. So much of cycling is encapsulated in the team ethos.

It is the sports such as golf, tennis, boxing, athletics and sailing which are all about the individual and only about the individual. They might rely on great coaching and the very best of equipment but their triumphs are not governed by the speed of their car or of their horse (with utter deference to AP McCoy). When the gun goes, the bell rings, or Ivor Robson says “on the tee’ it is all on them.
Joe Calzaghe, Lennox Lewis and legends such as Ted “Kid” Lewis and Jack Broughton afford Britain such a rich boxing pedigree but when it comes to the “pound-for-pounders” they are rarely mentioned. That is why Fred Perry has to miss out and, indeed, Andy Murray.

As the world’s greatest Olympic sailor, Sir Ben Ainslie would be my current first choice and it would merely be a personal preference to supplant him with McIlroy. But then, it is impossible to consider such imponderables without the influence of bias.
The quickest of peeks at the Sports Personality winners list would confirm that athletics would garner a lot of UK support and the likes of Sebastian Coe, Daley Thompson, Dame Kelly Holmes, Mo Farah have justifiable claims. Yet surely not as justifiable as Sir Roger Bannister.

Track record: Sir Roger Bannister is a legend of athletics
What he did on that windy evening at the Iffley Road, Oxford in 1954 will forever, in my opinion, stand as the greatest individual moment in UK sport - the ultimate UK milestone. He not only broke through the four-minute barrier, but in doing so smashed the world record by more than two seconds. Bannister went where no human had before and where no junior doctor had before.
Goodness knows where he would have finished in the athletics pantheon had he taken the entirely wrong decision to dedicate his life to the track instead of medicine. Yet as his sporting body of work stands, it does not boast enough volumes.
There are snooker players whose records stack up, a certain darts player whose record definitely does and there are comparable claimants from other niche sports. But these sports are not played the world over and thus the pool in which to be judged is too small. That clearly does not apply to golf, not with more than 20 nationalities having won majors. It is a global game and in Sir Nick Faldo and, now McIlroy, Britain has golfers whose CVs are discussed in global terms.

Tall tale: Nick Faldo is Britain's most decorated golfer
Currently, Faldo still has the edge, six majors to four. Yet a set of five with all four of the major titles is better than a set of six from two. It is who Mcilroy would be joining which would single him out in the roll call of British and Irish greats: Nicklaus, Woods, Player, Hogan, Sarazen. McIlroy would be the only European and would have cracked the cabal at such a young age, emulating Nicklaus and Woods in winning all four before his 26th birthday. And what’s more he would have predicted it more than a decade and a half before.
McIlroy’s shot at immortality features on the cover of the New York Times magazine (in itself, another first for an individual UK sports person). In the guts of the near 5,000-word profile comes a startling and telling revelation. McIlroy agrees that the note he sent to Woods after winning the Under-10s World Championship in 1998 went something like this: “I’m coming to get you. This is the beginning. Watch this space.”
Amazingly, a green-jacket next week would be nowhere near the end. It would simply be the continuation of an unprecedented UK sports story. We would genuinely never have seen the like.


Agree?
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Post by kwinigolfer Sat Apr 04, 2015 11:40 am

Lester Piggott for me, for two generations the world's outstanding jockey.

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Post by Be_the_ball Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:13 pm

I don't think I agree with that Mc, Sir Steve Redgrave is the best single UK athlete for me and if we are going to mention cycling then Stephen Roche's tripple crown of Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and World Championship in 87 would for me be better.

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Post by Be_the_ball Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:50 pm

Although I would say if Rory can beat Faldo's 6 majors, he would be the GB&I goat.

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Post by JAS Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:00 pm

Far be it from me to in any way denigrate the achievements of Redgrave but...minor point...his "Golden Boy" achievements were as part of a team. The earlier golds as part of a 2 man team and the latter ones as past of a 4.
Some of Hoys were as part of a Team, others individual, so does that give him an edge? With all the hoopla that surrounded Wiggins in his incredible 2012, its easy to forget Roche's achievements 25 years earlier although it could be argued that that was definitely achieved during cycling's "darker" years (without wishing to speculate or implicate on what if any "supplements" may have been taken to achieve what he did).

Athletically I'd put Coe above Bannister. What Bannister did was indeed groundbreaking but in a way he was fortunate that the record had edged down to the point where a major time barrier was there to be broken down. Coe's 2 1500 meter golds (the second after he'd been written off due to a debilitating glandular illness) and the breaking of the 800 & 1500m world records for fun during a golden period in 1981 (especially his best 800m mark which incredibly stood for a couple of decades while the records around it continued to edge down) suggests to me that Coe was a class apart.

For Rory to surpass all those guys yes a career slam is needed, more than Faldo as well, just to underline the point, oh and throw in an Olympic gold too (personally that wouldn't alter my perception of his achievements but it would increase the profile of his achievements with the non golfing populous)


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Post by navyblueshorts Tue Apr 14, 2015 3:34 am

Sorry, but anyone who thinks McIlroy's achievements to-date (and in the future) are solely "individual" are having a laugh.
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Post by McLaren Tue Apr 14, 2015 5:53 am

so navy, what sporting achievements would you say are "solely individual"?
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Post by pedro Tue Apr 14, 2015 6:31 am

Lowry clearing the clubhouse buffet week after week does it for me.

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Post by navyblueshorts Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:18 am

I don't know Mac. These days it's all "team". The point I'm trying to make is that it doesn't make a lot of sense to advocate against some of the other suggested greats on the basis of 'individual' vs 'team'.

Some other suggested British/Irish 'greats':

Harry Vardon
Jackie Stewart
Phil 'The Power' Taylor
A.P. McCoy
Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis or Ronnie O'Sullivan (much as I don't like him that much)
Daley Thompson
David Bryant
Etc, etc, etc.

Basically, it's a conjecture that's not worth bothering about that much. How can anyone make a sensible comparison of the pros/cons? McIlroy is just damned good and I'm happy be able to watch him swing a club.
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Post by McLaren Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:24 am

McIlroy is a long way from being even the best among the players he has played against. Phil and Tiger are clearly still a level above Mcilroy.
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Post by pedro Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:34 am

McLaren wrote:McIlroy is a long way from being even the best among the players he has played against.  Phil and Tiger are clearly still a level above Mcilroy.
That doesn't disqualify him from being the greatest GB/I sports person ever. Whistle

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Post by McLaren Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:44 am

Pedro

as navy mentioned it is difficult to compare, but I am sure some GB/I sportspeople have at least achieved the status as the best among those they have directly competed against. You could argue Woods and Mickelson are of a different generation but even so Rory has not been a prolific PGAT winner yet.
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Post by kwinigolfer Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:45 am

Mac,
Since Rory broke through his achievements have been head and shoulders above those of Phil and Tiger - no point in producing ridiculous statements just to support your personal bias.

Anyway, I would say Rory is in the Top Twenty during my lifetime, not sure I'd place him much higher than that, even with a Masters; but his achievements are mounting up year-on-year and a Top Five certainly within his grasp.

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Post by McLaren Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:49 am

Kwini

As I said, you could easily argue phil and tiger are of another generation. Although Rory has performed much better than them of late, they are sort of his peers and career wise they are well ahead. But of course they are, they have been around for 20+ years. In time I am sure Rory will at least match phils major count. Not sure Rory can match phils PGAT wins, which I hold as a very good marker of a players performance.
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Post by kwinigolfer Tue Apr 14, 2015 9:54 am

Mac,
Highly improbable Rory would match PGA Tour career wins of Mickelson - Mickelson plays several more PGA Tour events each year than Rory and has different objectives. Similarly Mickelson has probably not won as many European Tour events as Rory, Majors excepted.


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Post by LadyPutt Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:12 am

What about some of the British/Irish rugby greats - Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, Bill Beaumont, Brian O'Driscoll? And the motor racing drivers - Jackie Stewart (mentioned by NBS), Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell, Richard burns (who now what he would have achieved if he had not died so tragically young) - even Lewis Hamilton? And the cricketers - Jack Hobbs, Len Hutton, Fred Trueman, even Geoff Boycott? They may play for or be supported by teams, but they are still "individuals" in their own right. It all comes down to which sport you are keen on really.

However, I agree that Rory is definitely "up there" and is likely to be for some time - even if he is challenged by Jordan.
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Post by kwinigolfer Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:19 am

Hey, What about Shack and Philip Mead?

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Post by LadyPutt Tue Apr 14, 2015 11:14 am

kwinigolfer wrote:Hey, What about Shack and Philip Mead?
I was going to mention them but then probably only you and I would know what we're taking about! Hug
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Post by dummy_half Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:59 am

LP
Add to your list of motorsports greats John Surtees - the dominant motor bike racer at the end of the 50s, start of the 60s (7 world titles across the 350cc and 500cc classes) and then changed to car racing and won an F1 world title there as well. A feat very unlikely to be matched in the future.

Obviously, comparisons between sports are always problematic, but for all Rory has had an outstanding start to his career, that's all it really is to far. Let's re-assess in 5 or even 10 years

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Post by LadyPutt Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:25 am

dummy_half wrote:LP
Add to your list of motorsports greats John Surtees - the dominant motor bike racer at the end of the 50s, start of the 60s (7 world titles across the 350cc and 500cc classes) and then changed to car racing and won an F1 world title there as well. A feat very unlikely to be matched in the future.

Don't get me started on that. Why Surtees has not been knighted (as all his successful contemporaries have been) never ceases to amaze me. Add to that all the good work he has done through the Henry Surtees Foundation for youngsters with brain injuries (in memory of his son tragically killed in a freak accident at Brands Hatch), I find it hard to understand who in authority he must have seriously p****d off to be constantly overlooked. I know he wasn't the most popular driver in his day but there is not getting away from his remarkable achievements.

I attended a dinner a year or so back at which he was the guests speaker - a charming man who took time afterwards to talk to everyone and we have a signed ticket proudly displayed at home with LordPutt's motorsport photos and trophies thumbsup
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Post by McLaren Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:43 am

LP

I think surtees is shown more appreciation in Italy than he is here in the UK.
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