Sky Sports analysts Paul McGinley and Rich Beem are both convinced after Rory McIlroy’s superb eight-under par 64 on Sunday at the Masters that it’s only a matter of time before McIlroy adds to his four Major wins.
McIlroy came through the field in scintillating fashion at Augusta National, firing six birdies and an eagle including a remarkable hole-out birdie from the right greenside bunker on the 72nd hole, setting the clubhouse target at seven-under par.
In the end it would fall three shots shy of Scottie Scheffler’s winning score but how McIlroy went about his work provided more than enough evidence to convince former Ryder Cup Captain McGinley, and hopefully McIlroy himself, that he still has what it takes to win the career Grand Slam.
“There’s no reason why he can’t go on and win the Grand Slam,” said McGinley on the Golf Channel.
“I think there is a couple of things to look at here. I think now, and it is unquestioned, that this is a golf course that suits him. He likes it and it suits his game.
“We’ve all talked a lot about this. If Rory was to be stuck needing one more major to win the Grand Slam, you would think this would be the one most aligned with his game.
“His chipping is underrated and we saw how good that was today. He is brilliant around the greens, and we have seen some improvements in his putting.
“It is unquestioned that he can play this course, and there’s no reason why he can’t go on and win the Grand Slam.”
Not everyone was so positive about McIlroy’s Sunday showing, a 64 that fell one shot shy of the course record, but one produced, according to some observers, when the pressure of winning the tournament had been taken away from the Holywood star.
2002 PGA Championship winner Rich Beem found himself scrolling through such comments on social media but the American sees McIlroy’s final round differently, and hopes it can serve as a springboard for more Major titles for McIlroy who’s now gone eight years without one of golf’s top prizes.
“It’s funny because I was reading some of the comments on social media on Sunday night, which is probably the dumbest thing I could have ever done, but I did anyway, and they were taking shots at him for not being in contention until that final round 64,” Beemer wrote in his Sky Sports column.
“If you flip the numbers round and he shoots 64 the first round and then shoots 73 the last round and loses it, do we look at Rory McIlroy’s performance any differently?
“I just think that what he learned about his game on Sunday, he will take forward and I think that he will be in contention a lot more in the majors this year.
“Yes, he has to get off to a better start in the majors going forward – 73s don’t cut it, there’s no doubt about that. He knows it, we know it, it’s just him going out and doing it.”
McIlroy is well aware that he’s been slow out of the blocks in Majors of late, and you can be sure he remembers that he fired opening rounds of 65, 67, 66 and 66 on his way to his four Major successes. However, turning up on a Thursday of a Major championship and producing the freewheeling golf of his Sunday 64 at Augusta is much easier said than done, with the 32-year old still trying to find a rhythm to ensure he’s in with a chance come any given Sunday.
“You’re not going to just go out and shoot 66 every time you go out in the first round of Major and win by a ton of shots,” McIlroy says.
“It’s happened before, but these golf tournaments especially are just about hanging around. You sort of know what the winning score is going to be at the end of the week and it’s just like trying to gradually build day after day until you maybe get to that point.
“I’ve tried to come out of the blocks too fast and that’s when you can start to make mistakes, especially on golf courses that are as treacherous as this one of all the places we play in Major championships.”
McIlroy will be gunning to work out a formula to ensure he features in the final round for many more Majors to come. With three chances left this year, and first up being the PGA Championship at Southern Hills from May 19, let’s hope he figures it out sooner rather than later.