Harrington on Generation X threat - "Rory will win many more majors, but the quicker the better"

Harrington on Generation X threat - "Rory will win many more majors, but the quicker the better"
 Rory McIlroy. Picture Eoin Clarke,  www.golffile.ie

Rory McIlroy. Picture Eoin Clarke, www.golffile.ie

With Rory McIlroy out shopping for mistletoe and Christmas crackers, the golfing world is looking to Jordan Spieth to pick up the guantlet in 2015 and challenge the Ulsterman for a major or two.

If Spieth's win in the Australian Open wasn't enough — he closed with a 63 and left a tired McIlroy 15 strokes adrfit - the 21-year old Texan now has everyone wondering how far he can go after he fired a 63 third round of the Hero World Challenge to take a seven-stroke lead into the final round.

World No 2 Henrik Stenson and US Ryder Cup star Keegan Bradley are the men nearest Spieth on 13 under par with Graeme McDowell tied for seventh after a 68 and an under-the-weather Tiger Woods, who vomited twice during his round though not because he duffed another two chip (that's eight this week), still in last place on level par despite three closing birdies for a 69.

Spieth's  total of 20 under par 196 broke the 54-hole scoring record for the event set by Pádraig Harrington en route to a two-shot win over Woods at Sherwood Country Club in 2002.

He holed a monster birdie putt on the final green to increase his lead but while he's just four years McIlroy's junior, Harrington reckons the real challenge to McIlroy will come from the youngsters who are learing to hit the ball that Bubba Watson.

 Jordan Spieth during the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth. Picture Fran Caffrey,  www.golffile.ie

Jordan Spieth during the Hero World Challenge at Isleworth. Picture Fran Caffrey, www.golffile.ie

It remains to be seen what Spieth can do or whether Woods will even regain enough form to threaten McIlroy.

As Harrington said before heading out to Indonesia this week, McIlroy will dominate for a few years to come but he needs to win his majors soon as a new generation of mega-hitters waits in the wings.

"Yeah, I definitely do (think Rory wil dominate again in 2015. He seems to be doing everyything right. He seems to have stolen a little bit of a march on the other players at the moment. He drives the ball ever so well and it gives him tremendous confidence. 

"I see that dominace in a few years' time not being as prevalent becuase of the fact the younger guys coming out are going to see him and learn from him and catch up with him, as we all did with Tiger. 

"But at the moment I think he is the dominant player and I do believe he will win many more majors, but the quicker the better. There will be plenty of good players coming around the corner."

Harrington spoke about the new generation back in May and the arrival of players who will be driving the ball more than 360 yards in the next few years, leaving McIlroy and Bubba Watson in their wake.

"The good thing about (Rory and Bubba) is that when they play well, they can win and win within themselves There are other guys who need to play well and have things go right for them on top of that. 

“That’s the way the modern game is going. In 10 years’ time there will be 30 guys on the tour that will hit the ball as far as Bubba and way past what he does. They grow up hitting the golf ball hard with the modern equipment, trying to get distance.

"Bubba’s ball speed is up there in the high 180s, but there are guys who can get it up to around 200 ball speed. So you are going to get guys who are going to be able to hit it …… let’s see…. 30 yards past Bubba. 

"I am not saying they will all get on tour but in 10 years there will be a lot of guys who will hit it a long way. I am not saying now but in five years time there are five or six guys who produce this huge length, so to win majors Bubba will have to do other things as well as hitting it long. It is the nature of the game and how it has changed.”