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Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods

NICK Faldo believes the Tiger Woods era is over after the 14-time major winner missed the cut at Valhalla, but whether the Rory McIlroy era is under way is open to debate.

McIlroy was looking to claim his second major in four weeks, and the fourth of his career, in the weather-affected US PGA Championship last night, which would make him the first player since Pádraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back majors.

Lifting the Wanamaker Trophy for the second time would also see the 25-year-old become the third youngest player after Woods and Jack Nicklaus to win four majors, just one less than the total won by the late Seve Ballesteros and two behind Faldo.

"We are in a new era now. Whether it becomes Rory McIlroy's era, we don't quite know yet," said Faldo, who won three Masters and three Open titles.

"He's sure making a damn good case for it. But there's such great quality, the quality left and right of Tiger I think is amazing."

McIlroy's current form had Shane Lowry predicting "we're all playing for second here this week" as early as Friday, but the Irishman thinks it will be hard for anyone to emulate Woods' achievements.

"Tiger's still there," Lowry (inset right) said after a closing 67 at Valhalla which was completed shortly before the torrential downpour which forced play to be suspended for almost two hours.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see Tiger Woods come back and do all sorts next year, that's the type of person he is.

"It's hard to see anyone else being like that. Okay, Rory is on top form at the moment and when gets on form he's pretty much unbeatable I think. But it's hard for anyone to do it for as long as Tiger has done it.

"It's hard to see anyone doing that and hopefully not because then it will give the rest of us a chance. That's my feelings about it."

DOMINATING

Former US Open champion Graeme McDowell had previously said it was too early to talk about McIlroy dominating the game, but knows he could have to start revising that opinion.

"I said at The Open that I didn't think we were ready to start talking about the next Tiger. If he was to win this weekend I'd be starting to chew on my words," McDowell said.

"Speaking to Rory a few years ago, I remember him telling me he didn't have that Jack number in his head (Nicklaus won a record 18 majors). He was thinking three, four, five. I'm sure that number is clicking up as we speak.

"If he wins this week the conversation starts to change. He's very special. Anything is possible if he can keep this level of intensity, desire and motivation going. It's pretty incredible stuff.

"When he's at his best there is no-one who can live with him because he has the all-round game. His putting used to be his Achilles heel, it's not any more. His short game is phenomenal.

"With his equipment change his driver wasn't the weapon it used to be but now it is again. He's got that sorted out and it is back to being a serious weapon.

"He's obviously in a very good place mentally despite everything that has gone on in his world. He seems to have nipped it all in the bud."


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