Rory McIlroy may not have won a Major Championship in well over five years but the new World No. 1 is in ‘the form of his life’. That’s the view of fellow Irishman and former victorious European Ryder Cup Captain, Paul McGinley.
In returning to the top of the World Rankings, McGinley believes McIlroy can reproduce the form to earn himself a long overdue fifth Major.
“If you ask me who the best player in the world is now I will say Rory, every day of the week,” McGinley said in an article by good friend and colleague, Jamie Corrigan writing in the Telegraph.
“And I wouldn’t have 18 months ago. Yeah, he had those years of winning four majors, but the underlying stats tell me he is in the form of his life. On the PGA Tour last season, he was first on the strokes gained, tee-to-green charts and in the strokes gained, putting list he was up from 159th two years before to 24th.
“That is formidable and now he’s world No 1 again. For Rory this will be a box ticked on the road to being where he wants to be – with the Masters win he needs for the career grand slam and more majors in his locker.”
And in Jamie’s article, McGinley singles out McIlroy’s work with Brad Faxon as a catalyst to McIlroy being in ‘this good place’.
“I’m amazed why more isn’t made on Faxon’s influence,” McGinley said.
“I truly think Faxon [the former US Ryder Cup player] was the instigator of Rory finding this good place.
“I recently spent a bit of time with him talking about Rory. Faxon unshackled him, unburdened him, let the talent come through again, allowed him to become more instinctive.
“Brad was the line in the sand. Everyone says that Faxon gave Rory a putting lesson, but I can tell you, he didn’t. It was more a mental lesson and on the back of that, Rory has started reading all of these books which are all about freeing himself. This new philosophy has helped his golf no end.”
McIlroy’s return to World No. 1 puts him very much in the frame to surpass Nick Faldo as third in terms of the most weeks spent as World No. 1.
Faldo first went to World No. 1 in September, 1990 and then regained the No. 1 for a fourth occasion in July 1992 in capturing a third Open Championship and then stayed on top up until the first week of February, 1994.
Faldo’s combined tally of 97-weeks atop of the Rankings is third overall behind Woods with a massive 683 weeks while Aussie Greg Norman is a distant second with 331 weeks.
And while McIlroy only needs to remain World No. 1 for two weeks to go past Faldo, American Brooks Koepka, who McIlroy bumped off the top of the Rankings, could regain the No. 1 title by finishing top-7 at the Genesis this week.
Also, Jon Rahm, currently No. 3, would go past both McIlroy and Koepka should the Spaniard finish first or second this coming week in suburban LA.
It’s this scenario that McGinley believes will also drive McIlroy on to great things this year.
“It’s always been the case with Rory, that he bounces back incredibly well from adversity,” McGinley said.
“When he gets a kicking is when he normally produces his best. And the fact that people are dismissing him because of his recent major displays will fire him up. And that’s great because all you want is Rory ignited, because we all know how good he can be.”