Legendary swing coach Butch Harmon believes Rory McIlroy’s rousing final round 64 at the Masters might just provide the shot in the arm the four-time Major winner needed in order to add to his tally this year.
With victory seemingly out of sight on Sunday at Augusta, McIlroy played with the handbrake off, reminding the world of his retained and phenomenal ability with his lowest ever score at Augusta, just one stroke shy of the course record, before finishing three shots back of Scottie Scheffler at seven-under par.
Many will say it’s another freewheeling performance from McIlroy when the pressure of winning is alleviated and until he does it from Thursday, it’s merely another false dawn. Not Harmon, however, who believes the manner of McIlroy’s six-birdie, one-eagle charge, not least the way he rounded it off in outrageous fashion with an unlikely hole-out-from the greenside bunker on 18, will inject the Holywood star with the confidence and belief that he still has what it takes to win golf’s biggest prizes.
“I think this is going to do wonders for Rory McIlroy’s confidence,” said Harmon, with McIlroy now Major-less since 2014.
“We all know the talent he has, we all know how good he is, but I think this is the thing that’s going to turn him around. This is going to give him the confidence.
“And I’m going to go out on a limb right now, I think Rory McIlroy is going to win a major – one of the next three, and I think this is going to be the reason that it happens.
“I think this is what Rory McIlroy needed. I don’t know where he’s been, I don’t know what’s been inside his head the last few years. I know what his talent is because he’s one of the best players that I think I’ve seen.
“This is going to propel him back to where we think he should be.”
Next up on the men’s Major rota is the PGA Championship from May 19-22 at Southern Hills Country Club before the US Open heads to Brookline from June 16-19 and the The 150th Open brings the curtain down on Major season at the Home of Golf from July 14-17.
McIlroy will have to wait another year if he’s to complete the career grand slam, while only one man now stands a chance of collecting all four majors this year with world number one Scheffler showing no signs of stopping having now captured four titles from his last six starts.
“Nothing gets this guy riled up,” Harmon observed. “He reminds me of Jack Nicklaus. His coolness, his calmness. He never gets that excited, he just goes about his business. He is a 25-year-old journeyman, the way he plays.
“We all know Scottie Scheffler is the best player in the world right now, and he’s not stopping now. He’s going to go on and on, and guess what, the Grand Slam is on because he’s the only one that can win it.
“He’s run up the ladder pretty quickly, and if you think he’s at the top of the ladder now, you’re wrong. It’s a tall ladder and he’s going to keep climbing it. This guy’s amazing – what he has done and how quickly he has done it, this is the man right here. Now you know why he’s No 1 in the world.”