Rory McIlroy‘s ended a 15th full season in the professional ranks on a positive note, creating golfing history in becoming the first player to end a season as a triple No. 1.
McIlroy will see out 2022 as World No. 1, PGA Tour No. 1 and now DP World Tour No. 1.
This past season he’s won three times on the PGA Tour which helped McIlroy capture a third FedEx Cup title and yet he did not taste success on the DP World Tour, but still played strong enough to be crowned European No. 1 for a fourth occasion.
Though for the real golfing purists there’s no hiding the fact that the year ends for McIlroy, albeit for ‘The Match’ early month, with it being eight long years since the now 33-year-old won at the game’s highest level.
It had taken McIlroy 11 majors to capture a first major in winning the 2011 US Open, 17 majors to win the 2012 PGA Championship and 24 majors to win the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool before a fourth in his very next major of 2014, that being the PGA Championship in near darkness at Valhalla.
In the intervening time he’s teed-up in a further 33 majors and with his best season clearly this past year finishing 2nd, 5th, 8th and 3rd in the 2022 majors.
And as we know, McIlroy needs only to win a Masters to join the most exclusive club in all of golf, a club presently boasting just four members.
It was at the Masters earlier this year where he secured second place, and his best finish at Augusta National in 14 showings on the Georgia golfing gem.
”I probably sound like a broken record but it’s been eight years since I won a major, but I feel like I’ve done everything else in the game since then. I’ve won three FedExCups since winning my last Race to Dubai,” said McIlroy
“So, you know, I’ve done a ton of stuff and all I can do is keep my head down, work hard and play the way I have been playing. But as I said, I’ve been really encouraged with how I’ve played this year in the majors, how I’ve started and that’s something to really build on for next year.”
And rightfully so given the unprecedented events that continue to take place outside the ropes in the men’s professional game.
“Yeah, it’s an amazing achievement, an achievement I haven’t been able to accomplish before, and I’ve been able to win this tour rankings and finish the year as world No. 1,” he added. “But to do it in America, as well, yeah, it’s very cool. I keep saying that I’ve been a pro now for over 15 years, and to still try to figure out ways to try to accomplish new things, that’s what keeps me coming back.
“I feel like I’m healthy. I’m 33 and I feel like my body is in as best shape as it’s ever been and hopefully it’s just moving ahead and keep on moving on.”
You can never question McIlroy’s determination and, given also the sadness of last week that not many outside of Ireland were aware as McIlroy learned while in Dubai his uncle, and his mother’s legendary footballing brother Mickey McDonald, had passed away, aged just 63.
The golf world has long admired McIlroy for his golf and now he gleans enormous support off the golf course for a seemingly singled-handed PGA Tour non-endorsed role, in tackling the full might of LIV Golf.
He hurled a verbal grenade last week at Greg Norman, CEO at LIV Golf with remarks: ‘He (Norman) needs to go .. exit stage left’. It was a comment that many agreed needed to be said with even Norman’s fellow Queenslander, fellow Australian, fellow Open Champion and previously long-time good friend, Ian Baker-Finch agreeing that this also needs to happen.
It now begs the question, and at the most tumultuous period in men’s pro golf, how did McIlroy ever stay focussed to end the year with a historic No. 1 treble?
I’ve been a long-time supporter of McIlroy’s, ever since being in the media centre when he was walked-in aged 16, thanks to Darren Clarke’s help in getting him an invitation, that saw McIlroy make his European Tour debut in the 2005 Daily Telegraph Dunlop Masters at the Forest of Arden course.
I was impressed then and I’m still impressed now.
We all know, you get handed nothing in this world. You have to go out and earn it.
McIlroy will return to Dubai later in January for the Dubai Desert Classic and the start of his 16th full season and it is a thought in signing off this article wondering if his jacket size remains the same as it was eight years ago?
No matter, I’m sure that McIlroy will gladly stretch out his arms whatever the jacket size.