Like Tiger, Like Rory

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Like Tiger, Like Rory

September 18, 2012

Child Star

Perhaps earlier than any other would-be sports legend, Tiger Woods made his debut on the national stage, appearing on the "Mike Douglas Show" when he was 2. By the time he was 3, he could break 50 for nine holes. We could go on, but you get the point. The kid was a prodigy.

Child Star

At just nine years old in 1999, McIlroy appeared on "The Kelly Show"in 1999. During the segment, he gave a quick interview and showed how he practiced at home by chipping golf balls into a dryer (left). Kids, it's probably best if you don't try this at home. . .

Junior Phenom

It's been reported that Woods won more than 200 junior tournaments and that when he was 11, he won all 36 events he entered, many against older players. He backed that up on the national scene as well, winning an incredible three-straight U.S. Junior titles. Here, he's shown with his father, Earl, after winning the event in 1991.

Junior Phenom

Tales of McIlroy's precociousness were prevalent as he grew up in Northern Ireland, but his legend really spread when he broke the Royal Portrush course record with a 61 at 16. Here, he's pictured with one of his idols, Nick Faldo, after winning the under-15 division at the Faldo Series Final in 2004.

Amateur Sensation

Woods became the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur in 1994 (left). He then won the event the following two years as well to become the only player in history to take the title three years in a row. He also captured an NCAA individual title while playing at Stanford for two years.

Amateur Sensation

McIlroy captured the 2006 European Amateur at age 17 and ascended to No. 1 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking the following year. Here, he's shown sitting next to Ernie Els and accepting the award for low amateur at the 2007 Dubai Desert Classic.

Major Introduction

The year before he would become a megastar, Woods showed he could hang with the big boys by firing a 66 in the third round of the 1996 British Open at Royal Lytham & St. Annes. He finished T-22 to take low amateur honors.

Major Introduction

The world got its first good look at the 18-year-old McIlroy when he fired an opening 68 at 2007 British Open at Carnoustie. Tied for third after the first round, he couldn't sustain the same pace, but his T-42 still made him low amateur -- an honor achieved by Woods 11 years prior.

Fast Start As A Pro

Woods became the first U.S. college player since Phil Mickelson to earn his PGA Tour card without having to go through Q School. In just eight events, he earned enough money to place 24th on the tour's money list. Even in his debut at the Greater Milwaukee Open where he only finished T-60, Woods still showed a flair for the dramatic. Here, he's pictured after making a hole-in-one on the 14th hole during the final round.

Fast Start As A Pro

Like Woods on the PGA Tour, McIlroy just needed a few starts on the European Tour to gain full status. He only finished T-42 in his pro debut, but quickly followed that up with a third-place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and a T-4 at the Madrid Open to become the youngest European Tour affiliate member to earn a tour card.

First PGA Tour Win

Before he started wearing his trademark red shirts on Sunday (the collar has red, at least), Tiger was still tracking down opponents in final rounds. Trailing Lee Rinker by four heading into Sunday of the 1996 Las Vegas Invitational, just his fifth PGA Tour event as a pro, Woods shot a 64 and beat Davis Love III in a playoff.

First PGA Tour Win

McIlroy picked up his first win as a pro at the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic to become the first teen to ever jump into the top 20 of the Official World Golf Ranking. Like Woods, though, his first PGA Tour win came thanks to a spectacular final round when he shot a 62 to win the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship (left).

First Major Win

Woods already appeared on his way to stardom, but his performance at the 1997 Masters took him there immediately. After a 40 on his front nine Thursday, Woods rebounded with a 30 on the back nine and then posted rounds of 66, 65 and 69 to break the Masters record for scoring (18 under) and margin of victory (12 shots).

First Major Win

McIlroy's first major also came in blowout fashion. After a few close calls in majors, including a final-round meltdown at the 2011 Masters, McIlroy put forth one of the most dominant displays of golf ever at that year's U.S. Open. The recently-turned 22-year-old led from start to finish, tearing up Congressional to break the Open scoring record (16 under) and win by eight shots.

First Ryder Cup

For all his early individual success, Woods' first team experience as a pro at the 1997 Ryder Cup at Valderrama was a struggle. He had one win and two losses while playing with buddy Mark O'Meara, halved a match playing with Justin Leonard, and lost to Constantino Rocca in singles. His 1-3-1 overall record looks even worse when you consider the U.S. lost to Europe by a single point.

First Ryder Cup

McIlroy was also 21 at the time of his first appearance in the biennial event, but he fared much better than Woods, as evidenced by this celebratory photo. With a 1-1-2 record, McIlroy's two points figured prominently in Europe's dramatic 14.5 to 13.5 win at Celtic Manor.

Off-The-Course Turmoil

As Woods became a global superstar, several strategic steps were made regarding the direction of "Team Tiger." His first agent, Hughes Norton, was fired in 1998 and in March 1999, less than two years from their historic win together at Augusta National, Woods parted ways with caddie Mike "Fluff" Cowan in favor of Steve Williams.

Off-The-Course Turmoil

It hasn't been all smooth sailing for McIlroy during his quick rise to stardom, either. He parted ways with super-agent and manager Chubby Chandlerin October 2011. He also made waves when he complained about the weather at the 2011 British Open and got into a Twitter spatwith TV commentator Jay Townsend.

Post-Major Lull

Following his historic Masters win in 1997, people thought Woods would start winning on a near-weekly basis. While that wound up the case, it didn't happen right away. Overhauling his swing with coach Butch Harmon (left) in an effort to achieve better consistency and to give him more longevity, Woods only won one PGA Tour event in 1998.

Post-Major Lull

After a great finish to 2011 and a better start to 2012, things suddenly fell apart for McIlroy. He finished T-40 at the Masters and then went through a stretch of missing four of five cuts, including at his title defense at the U.S. Open at Olympic Club. For the first time in his young career, his focus and work ethic was questioned, mainly due to his public relationship with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

Second Major Title

Woods' swing changes under Butch Harmon finally started to click in the spring of 1999. He won the Memorial and the Western Open and then held off Sergio Garcia at the PGA Championship at Medinah, the site of this year's Ryder Cup, to win his second major.

Second Major Title

McIlroy broke out of his mid-year slump in a major way, running away from the field at the PGA Championship. He shot rounds of 67 and 66 over the weekend at Kiawah Island's tough Ocean Course to match the eight-shot margin of victory from his first major title the year before.

Ensuing Hot Streak

Woods didn't stop after his triumph at Medinah. He ripped off four more wins, including the American Express Championship (left) and the Tour Championship, and then started 2000 with two additional wins, running his PGA Tour winning streak to six events. Of course, with his win at the 2000 U.S. Open, he started the most famous streak of his career: A run of four-straight majors that would come to be known as the "Tiger Slam."

Ensuing Hot Streak

Following his romp at Kiawah, McIlroy kept his foot on the accelerator. Competing in his first FedEx Cup Playoffs, he won the Deutsche Bank and BMW Championships in back-to-back weeks to solidify his spot at the top of golf's pecking order and wrap up his first PGA Tour Player of the Year Award. Two years later, McIlroy authored an even more impressive hot streak by winning the British Open, WGC-Bridgestone Championship, and PGA Championship in a row.

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