There's no getting Woods

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks off the 18th green during final round play in the 2011...

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland walks off the 18th green during final round play in the 2011 Masters golf tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, April 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Shaun Best)

TIM McKAY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

A young golfer tries to sleep Saturday night, knowing a major championship is within his grasp.

Leading after 54 holes he tries to cast out the illusions of grandeur swirling in his mind.

There's still work to be done Sunday and there are other guys within striking distance.

One of them is Tiger Woods, and he's far more famous and decorated, on a trajectory to be the game's best.

Welcome to Rory McIlroy's reality Saturday night at Augusta.

And Mike Weir's, on a Saturday night in Medina, Ill., in 1999.

Both players held at least a share of the lead (McIlroy four up at the Master and Weir tied at the top of the PGA Championship) after 54 holes and both were seeking their first major victory.

And memorably, tragically, both shot 80 in their respective final rounds.

The scenarios are shockingly similar: At 21, McIlroy is much younger than Weir's 29 at the time, but both had about the same amount of experience on the PGA Tour.

The results, too, were eerily similar.

An 80 as the whole world watched the players' undoing before the cameras mercifully pulled away to focus on the players that streamed past the former leaders.

Then, the painful interviews.

"I'm very disappointed," McIlroy said. "I was leading this golf tournament with nine holes to go and I just unravelled. It's going to be hard to take for a few days, but I'll get over it.

"You know, I'll have plenty more chances. I know that."

Weir, too, had been philosophical.

"I gave it my best and I didn't give up," he told reporters after his round. "Eighty is the best score I could have shot, obviously. I tried on every shot.

"I'll be back again."

If there's a lesson here for McIlroy from Weir, it's that he'll be prepared next time.

Weir later said that he "took a lot" from that experience.

Weir went on to win his first PGA Tour event two weeks later at the Air Canada Championship and set the foundation for his monster year in 2003.

It likely won't be long before McIlroy wins a major.

TIGER TALK

And now for another instalment from the Tiger-taunting file...

The Orlando Sentinel and Ian Poulter were forced to eat their words following Woods' fine performance at the Masters.

After correctly predicting last year that Woods would finish in the top five at the Masters, Poulter said before this year's event: "I don't think he'll finish in the top five."

Score one for Tiger, who finished tied for fourth.

And Woods' hometown paper blared a couple weeks before the tournament that Tiger was "irrelevant."

So irrelevant that the CBS broadcast of the tournament scored its second-highest ratings in the past 10 years.

Saturday and Sunday's viewership numbers were second only to the year before, when Tiger also was in contention.

Just goes to show that Woods still matters.

tim.mckay@sunmedia.ca Twitter@TimMcKayGolf


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