His glorious win at the Open Championship in Hoylake was none other than a stunning display of world class golf. However, Rory McIlroy is already looking ahead to The Master’s next year in Augusta, as his Open victory has brought him in touching distance of obtaining the golf career grand slam, now having won three of the four major tournaments.
Looking back throughout the history of golf, golfing legends such as Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods, who have succeeded in winning all four majors in their sporting careers, are great influences for McIlory. Being only a mere 25 years old, and having already won many a prestigious tournament, Rory seems to be on the verge of superstardom. His ability to pull out all the stops and produce some astounding and glorious golf not only enables him to win and fend off other fantastic players, but also allows him to showcase his extraordinary talent at such a tender age.
If we compare Rory to Tiger Woods, Woods does appear superior with his completion of the career grand slam at the age of 24, when he won the Open in 2000. This incredible stat places Tiger Woods as one of the greatest golfers of this generation and future generations to come. As well as Woods, Nicklaus, who undoubtedly has the most successful career in golf winning a total of 17 majors, completed his career grand slam at the 1986 Masters, at the age of 46. At the age of 25, Rory evidently has plenty of time to find his feet and complete something which only five men have managed to do in the history of golf.
Rory McIlroy is undeniably an insane talent, that much is certain. With 13 professional wins under his belt, he has placed himself in the epicentre of golfing greatness, often winning tournaments by a considerable length. Fellow golfer and Aussie number one Adam Scott, who had a successful Open tournament this year ending with a score of 12-under-par, was quoted recently saying: “We’ve seen what happens, Rory wins majors by eight shots”. It is this ability that sets Rory apart from other great players.
Analysis of Rory’s previous Masters performances
In order to gain a good understanding of what Rory has to do to win the Masters next year, I think it is important to look at his previous performances, as this will give a good understanding of what has to be done to claim that illusive green jacket.
Rory’s Masters career began in 2011, where his bogey-free round of 65 saw him become the youngest ever player to lead the Masters at the end of the first day with a score of 7-under-par. He was able to go into the tournament as a mere 21 year old, and have the round of his life on the centre stage of golf in front of the eyes of the world. Of course it is important to recognise that as this was Rory’s first Masters, he had nothing to lose, and therefore one can presume that he stepped out onto the course to play for experience and enjoyment, as opposed to feeling the great pressure which he perhaps now does. However, the fact that he not only performed well, but exceeded expectations to such an enormous extent, excited the golfing world and clearly got people talking about this young talent from Holywood, Northern Ireland.
As the tournament progressed, Rory went on to shoot a 69 and a 70 over the next two days, and was leading the pack at 12-under-par. However, disaster struck as he went on to complete the final Sunday with the worst Masters round in history, ending the day with a score of 80. This evidently was worrying for Rory’s fans, as such a severe decrease in his standard of play was not only mortifying and disconcerting, but utterly surprising due to his fantastic performance on the first 3 days of the tournament.
On the back of his rather disappointing Masters result, Rory went on to win the 2011 US Open, his first major. With this win, it was clear that he had something special, winning by an impressive 8 strokes. This showed the world that he could without a doubt perform on the world golfing stage at exceedingly high levels.
In 2012, Rory obviously had something to prove, going into the tournament needing to redeem last year’s catastrophic end; nonetheless, despite going into the final two days one stroke off the lead, he had a miserable last two days and finished joint 40th. In spite of his US Open win, it is these performances that made me think about Rory’s consistency. As a golfer with such huge potential which had been showcased, it was difficult to understand why these flashes of greatness were not as regular as one would hope. Could McIlroy handle the pressure in a game where not just one single off day, but one single bad shot, can be the undoing of an entire tournament?
Simply put, yes. Rory’s subsequent PGA Championship win was utterly masterful, completing the final day with a bogey-free round of 66, and finishing the tournament 8 strokes in front of the tournament runner-up David Lynn. The fact Rory went on to win his second major title to such a prodigious length showed that this young man has what it takes to be a golfing legend. His win not only displayed his phenomenal talent, but his 8 stroke lead saw him surpass Jack Nicklaus’ previous record of 7 strokes in 1980 at the age of 40.
On the back of this win, and the rest of 2012 being successful due to a win at the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, it was unfortunate to see Rory struggle once again at the Masters in 2013, finishing 2 over par. 2014 did not fare much better it is sad to say, with a final result of E.
Evidently to this date, Rory’s Masters conquests have had their positives and their negatives. Watching reruns of the first three days of his Masters debut in 2011 makes Rory appear as a golfer who was made to play this tournament. Recently, I heard former golfing pro and commentating legend Peter Alliss claim that Rory’s game was tailor-made for Augusta, and I could not agree more due to Rory’s ability to hit the ball unbelievably high and to vast lengths. Here’s hoping for a successful tournament in 2015! Good luck Rory!