Rory putts it beyond any doubt - he is now 'The Man'
Published 20/08/2014 | 02:30
As an emblem of celebrity bling, the Tonight Show Face Breakers trophy, presented by Jimmy Fallon, is an important marker in the inexorable rise of Rory McIlroy.
Fallon is a leading light among the talk show beau monde broadcasting out of fame central in Manhattan. An audience with this talking head presupposes a certain celebrity value, which, when spun through the Fallon prism, thrusts the boy into a whole new orbit.
Think of the experience as the polar opposite of the Big Brother house, which dredges the green rooms of the world for D-listers then lobs them together in a dim ensemble of sub-ordinariness for the delectation of dunderheads with the intellectual guns of under-10s.
Back to New York. Just as he did at Old Trafford parading the Claret Jug at half-time, McIlroy looked a tad stiff in the studio setting, goofing around with golf balls in the company of Tiger Woods. Golf's outgoing poster boy has spent two decades adjusting to the requirements of fame and merely assumes the necessary posture depending on the setting. Woods was entirely at ease as Fallon's chipping coach: "You gotta get it there first." Who has not had that said to them on the driving range with the pro looking on?
McIlroy was presented with a wall of 12 glass panes arranged randomly within a square, six bearing a Warhol-like portrait of his face and six the mug of Fallon. Sharing a mat alongside Fallon with Woods looking on, the pair engaged in a game of six pots in, the idea being to smash each other's face in with their chip shots.
McIlroy's awkwardness left him the moment he had a club in his hand, his 60-degree wedge acting as a graphite-shafted comfort blanket. And guess what? He creamed it. Of course he did. McIlroy can't miss in this phase of the magic carpet ride.
The melding of sport and light entertainment is a popular device for TV shows looking to piggy back a "phenom" engaged in historic plunder. A golfer with four majors at 25, two of those bagged in the space of three weeks this summer, the golden bookends in a hat-trick of massive tournament wins, was perfect fodder for busy, young producers with topical antennae wanting to get on the hottest property.
McIlroy did not need an introduction. This is the second wave of conversational pieces after he made the same sofa following his first PGA Championship win at Kiawah Island two years ago, which also came the month before the Ryder Cup. He was packaged then by Fallon as the best golfer in the world "right now".
On this occasion there was no need to qualify McIlroy's status. He is 'The Man' full stop.
While on the show McIlroy and Woods both drenched each other as part of the online 'Ice Bucket Challenge' which has been sweeping the internet.
McIlroy nominated the former US president George W Bush, Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney and American actress Meghan Markle from hit legal drama Suits to be next for a cold shower.
Woods is presently stood down with back trouble and will not resurface until 2015. Even if he were in full health he would have to accept a reduced role in Jimmy's house routines. This he did with good humour. Let's see how he feels a year from now if the McIlroy arc continues to collect silverware at a similar rate on its remarkable trajectory.
McIlroy was dutifully respectful of Woods' place in the golfing pantheon.
"I've gotten to know Tiger for the last few years. I guess this little run that I'm on makes me appreciate what he's done in the past. Just phenomenal, just to keep a run like this going and he's done like way more than me," McIlroy said.
"Makes me appreciate how hard he worked, and how dominant a figure he was in our game."
Note the past tense. The pair appeared with Fallon at a Nike gig at Liberty National golf club before crossing the Hudson River for the TV slot. Woods was again playing second fiddle, reduced to standing by holding the coffees while McIlroy hit balls as Nike's principal mannequin.