Rory McIlroy is a past Players Championship winner, but he has also missed more cuts (5) than producing top-10 finishes (4) in a dozen appearances at TPC Sawgrass.
In fact, this week hopefully will be a lucky 13th Players showing for McIlroy since making his debut in 2009 but proceeding to miss the cut that year and also the next two years before three top-10s in succession – T8th (2013), T6th (2014) and T8th (2015).
He missed the cut in 2018 but bounced back in brilliant manner a year later to win at Tour HQ.
Of course, the 2019 Players was the first time in reverting back to a March date since 2007 and that suited McIlroy to a tee while let’s not forget he also won on Sunday, March 17th, a famed day for all Irish-born.
Indeed, McIlroy had highlighted after his opening 2019 Players round how much he delighted playing the course in March, compared to May.
“It lets guys showcase their skills a little bit more and play some different shots,” he said. “So, I think that’s a big difference why it’s better for me to be playing here in March.”
Though somewhat disappointing for the golfing Irish is that the last two years and also this year, we’re a week earlier than St. Patrick’s Day.
The stats also show from 2013 McIlroy is the leading performer when it comes to strokes gained tee-to-green per round – his average of +1.92 shots gained, is the highest of any player (with a minimum of 12 rounds).
However, since his Sawgrass success in 2019, McIlroy has struggled on the greens, losing nearly 11 full strokes to the field in putting.
Indeed, during his victory in 2019, he finished with a score of -16. But since then, his two scores have been missing the cut in 2021 (+10) and T33rd in 2022 (-3), showing a significant downturn in performance.
Similarly, in 2019 he averaged 5.5 birdies or better per round, with this figure dropping significantly to 3.2 birdies per round in his prior two appearances.
Ball striking-wise he was +11.79 in winning but down to +3.69 combined the past two years while his Players putting stats shows a credible +0.66 winning in 2019 but combined the past two years of a -10.88.
If McIlroy does win this week, and coming off a share of second in Arnie’s event, he would become only the 6th player ever to win the Championship twice, since its move to TPC Sawgrass in 1982.
And if so, he’d be in good company, joining none other than the great Tiger Woods, as well as Fred Couples, Davis Love III, Hal Sutton and Steve Elkington.
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