European Tour has plenty of star power

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy competes during Round 2 Dubai World Championship.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy competes during Round 2 Dubai World Championship.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Rory McIlroy is turning into the European Tour’s go-to boy.

He’s in good company.

Need someone to boost your ratings and get you some publicity? Rory can do it. So can a bunch of his peers.

Rory’s doing it here this week. Just when you wondered if he was going to get left choking on Lee Westwood’s dust as the Race to Dubai winds to a finish, Rory throws in a tidy little 5-under 31 on the front nine of Round 2 to spice up the Race.

He’s going to fight Westwood right down to the wire to become the European No. 1.

As I look at the leaderboard coming into the tail end of the second round, I see McIlroy’s name along with fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington, an Australian in Robert Allenby and Englishmen Westwood and Ross McGowan. Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa, Sergio Garcia and Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain, Sweden’s Johan Edfors and Colombian Camilo Villegas.

Talk about cosmopolitan. Although I suppose it figures we’d have an international field in the city that’s allegedly the world’s greatest melting pot. The array of international talent on the European Tour is simply staggering.

More impressive, though, is the plethora of good young players. In McIlroy, Europe has arguably the world’s future superstar. He’s not holding up the European Tour on his own, however.

Europe has probably an even better prospect than McIlory in Germany’s Martin Kaymer. He’s higher up the world rankings than McIlroy, 11th compared to 13th. His tally of four tournament wins is three more than McIlroy’s.

Think this guy isn’t going to follow in Bernhard Langer’s footsteps? The only reason the 24-year-old doesn’t get more press coverage stems from the parochial nature of the European Tour press corp.

Week to week, there are more British and Irish press than any other nation. In fact, if not for writers from the British Isles, many press rooms at Euro Tour events would be practically empty.

These aren’t the only under-25s in this week’s field. Chris Wood (21), Danny Willett (22) and Cabrera-Bello (25) round out the youngsters. Throw in a host of guys too numerous to mention straddling 30 years of age and it’s obvious the Euro Tour is in very rude health.

Put it this way: European Ryder Cup teams have a lot of guys waiting in the wings to take their place against America’s best.

The PGA Tour and the U.S. might have Nos. 1 and 2 in the world in Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, but Europe has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to young talent. Talent I’d stack up against the PGA Tour any day – even if I wish Rickie Fowler had a European passport.

Rory just happens to embody Europe’s youthful zest. Don’t think his value, and that of the other youngsters, is lost on European Tour chief executive George O’Grady. He knows Rory’s the go-to guy. He also knows there are plenty waiting in line behind him.

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