The 2014 PGA Championship was bigger than 1 tournament, it was beyond a changing of the guard, it was a perfect display of what the new era of golf looks like.  The new era consists of booming drives, young polarizing talents, and incredible shotmaking that keeps golf fans on the edge of their seat. Rory’s 284yard 3wood that settled 7 feet from the hole on 10 for Eagle, igniting his round, and Rickie’s 212yard 4iron on 16 that he drew 40 yards over towering trees for a huge par save, are prime examples.

Rory’s stretch of golf in the last 22 days has not only dazzled golf fans, but furthermore, has transformed skeptical onlookers into true believers that the future of golf is indeed bright. The PGA Tour accounts for only a fraction of this $176 billion/year industry, but it is definitely the focal point and driving factor for success in the future. If we can agree on that, then let me explain why my excitement for golf has never been greater.

Look no further than the top10 golfers on this year’s money list. There is a great balance between youth and experience, loved and hated players, but most of all, pioneers for what the future of golf will look like. Led by Rory, who is undoubtedly the best golfer in the world, and rounded out by Jordan Spieth, who had the best rookie season of all time last year. Who is in the middle? Glad you asked.

We have the long ball covered with Bubba, bad boy Dustin Johnson, a cinderella story in Jimmy Walker, funky swinging Furyk, controversial European Sergio, a former #1 Kaymer, and the epitome of consistency in Kuchar. No where in the top 10 are the “big names” Tiger and Phil, but thats OK. In fact, thats a good thing. The industry needs innovation, and so does the PGA Tour. We need new fan favorites, different people to root for, and original talents that do things differently than past legends. Rickie has unrivaled flare, Bubba never took a lesson, Dustin Johnson is Mr. Hollywood, and Rory…well, he’s just incredibly gifted.

“To be the face of golf — or one of the faces of golf — it’s a big responsibility,” said McIlroy. “But at the same time, I feel like I’m up to the task of handling it well.”

Is it too early to say that Rory is the face of golf right now? Absolutely not. He is everything Tiger was a decade ago on the course, and much more honest off the course. He is 25 years old and in control of his destiny to become one of the best golfers ever.  If he didn’t think it was possible to balance the weight of those expectations with the responsibilities of marriage, then he certainly did the right thing in calling off his marriage rather than falling into the temptations that comes with fame and fortune.  It wasn’t a popular move by any means, and he could have handled it better, but he is 25 years old and is still learning the ways of the world. Give him a break.

As far as on the course goes, he is a magician. A talent that is so pure it forces you to appreciate how rare it actually is. He had nothing going for him on the front9 yesterday, but stayed patient, just like he did in the Open Championship. He didn’t force any shots, he simply knew he needed a spark plug, which he got with an Eagle on the 10th hole. He then started flag hunting for the next 8 holes on his way to winning his 4th Major. The leaderboard was so tight that the winner needed to be the best player on Sunday, which is was, and will continue to be Rory if he stays focused in the years to come.

I have to admit, I was pulling for Rickie to win, or Phil to pull off a classic Phil victory despite having a very mediocre year. However, I couldn’t be happier the tournament ended the way it did. Golf has entered a new era, and its Rory’s time to shine.

P.S. – Cool exchange between Rory and Rickie that will get you excited for the years to come