Rory McIlroy knows he has plenty of time on his side to win more Majors and he believes he’s landed on a state of mind that should help him get there.
It will be almost eight years since McIlroy’s last Major win when he arrives at Augusta bidding to join the most exclusive club in golf and become a Grand Slam champion at the Masters. McIlroy picked off his first four Major wins by the age of 25, a feat only matched by Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods and at that point, winning more was only a matter of when, not if.
McIlroy, speaking on the NoLayingUp podcast, was asked by host Chris Solomon if his current Major haul feels a bit like going out in 27 and playing the back nine in 33 to shoot 60, given how elusive one of golf’s big titles have been of late, and although there’s frustration there, McIlroy was super calm in his answer, fully convinced he’ll yet add to his tally of four.
“There’s been opportunities to win Majors [in that time],” McIlroy noted. “The Masters in 2018, I didn’t put any pressure on Patrick [Reed] that final day. Finished second at Carnoustie, had a great chance to birdie 18 to put some pressure on Francesco [Molinari]. Tied for the lead with nine-holes to go at the US Open this year at Torrey Pines – I’ve had chances, just haven’t capitalised on them.
“But then again, thinking about it, I’m 32-years old. Phil Mickelson had zero majors at this point and he went on to win six of them post-33 or 34 so I still feel like I have a really long runway ahead of me. I certainly don’t think my Major winning days are over.
“And since 2014 I’ve basically won everything there is to win in the game of golf apart from a Major Championship – WGCs, The Players, two FedEx Cups, Race to Dubai – I’ve done most other things apart from winning one of those big four so if I keep playing the way I’m playing, keeping in this mindset that I think I’ve finally got right, it’s not far away.”
Another question put to McIlroy, as if to rubber-stamp his Major intentions next year, was what does the current world number 9 play golf for? The Holywood star has earned the guts of $80 million on the fairways alone since turning professional in 2007 while his net worth is reported to be almost double that at $150 million.
It would be easy to question a person’s motivation or work-rate when it comes to maximising their golf game, particularly when things aren’t going well, given such wealth and comfort – a criticism levelled at McIlroy from some corners in the past – and although the lure of banking more cash doesn’t exactly get him out of bed in the morning, etching his name on more titles certainly does the trick.
“Trophies, pin flags,” McIlroy said without hesitating.
“All my pin flags from my wins are up in my gym. All the trophies are obviously in my eyes. And at this point in my career, I would give all the prize money back to just win trophies. All of it, not what I have currently made, but going forward, you wouldn’t have to pay me a penny.”
Elaborating on the point, McIlroy revealed that one of his greatest thrills is someone coming up to him to simply say, ‘I love watching you play golf’, something that continues to provide him with a deep sense of job satisfaction as he strives to add more trophies to his cabinet.
“If I can win trophies and put pin flags on my gym wall and give people a little bit of joy through watching me play the game, awesome.”