McIlroy on the cusp of greatness
Rory McIlroy threatened to rewrite the record books after claiming his fourth major at the US PGA Championship when just 25 but that remains the last time he won one of the big four events.
Off-course problems, injuries and a well-publicised change of clubs may all have played a part and 2018 will be a big year as he looks to reassert himself at the top of the rankings.
Players such as Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas have enjoyed incredible success over the past couple of years while McIlroy has seemingly taken as step backwards, but most commentators agree that his best game is too good for most to match.
Consistency has been a problem, with the Northern Irishman unable to put four decent rounds together on occasions to challenge for honours and he has been down with the also-rans on too many occasions for a man of his talent.
Problems on the greens have been well documented but a superb victory in the recent Arnold Palmer Invitational seemed to suggest that part of his game is now working well, with a fresh attitude to putting.
The challenge is to take that into the Masters as the 28-year-old will begin his 10th quest to win a first Green Jacket next month.
Scrambling and putting are vital at Augusta, while a high percentage of greens in regulation will be essential if he is to complete a full set of majors this year.
The really best players are judged on how many majors they win and if McIlroy’s career ended now it would be deemed a success, with four already in the bag but he will need more to be considered one of the best ever golfers.
And his incredible success in 2014, when he won the Open, the US PGA Championship and a WGC event in the space of a few weeks suggests that he has it in him to win many more and join the sport’s elite.
The man from Hollywood is certainly a confidence player and there is a sense that another major win might open the floodgates to several more.
He has four top 10 finishes in the Masters in the last four years but has never really challenged for the title, securing what terms a ‘back-door top 10’ on each occasion.
Now a married man and with injury problems seemingly behind him, the stars seem to be aligned for an assault on more silverware and he is still young enough to have another 15 years at the top of the sport.
He maintained last year that his game was not far from clicking and there were glimpses of the old Rory, but the way that he blitzed the field at Bay Hill points to a bright future in both the short and long term.
Whether he can ever reach Tiger Woods’ haul of 14 majors is open to debate and having the American legend back on tour might inspire McIlroy to greater heights in the coming months.
He already has a record that most professionals can only dream of but there is surely much more to come.
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