Rory McIlroy will be judged on how many majors he has won at the end of his career.
If his legacy is that he burst onto the scene, looked like something resembling the second coming of Tiger Woods, won a bucket load of majors in double quick time – like plenty after him have – hung around the top-10 of the world rankings, had several stints at world number one, won the biggest golf tournaments around the world but could never quite clinch another major. But he was the hero who led the fight against a Saudi backed upstart tour. That’s not really going to cut it.
Golfing history will judge McIlroy very fairly and very positively for his role within the PGA Tour over the last year. It was a role he had no obligation to take but he has certainly turned the tide in the PGA Tour/LIV feud heavily in Jay Monahan’s favour through no real cause of Monahan.
McIlroy has an opportunity after his performances last year to have a renaissance in the second half of his career.
At 33-years-old and given modern fitness and technology, McIlroy, if he wants to, can play at the top level for another 20 years, at least.
We are just a fortnight out from the Holywood native’s latest jaunt at the Career Grand Slam at the Masters as he enters a ninth year since winning his fourth major at the 2014 PGA Championship in Valhalla.
Given he came so close to winning a fifth major title in 2022, he entered 2023 with this inevitability that if he wins one major, the floodgates will open again and he will collect another four almost as quickly as he did from 2011-2014.
Which would in turn, cement a much more legendary legacy; going up to what could be a decade without winning a major but then won a bunch of others to firmly confirm him as one of the best players of modern time.
Fair, if McIlroy retired now with his four majors it would still be fantastic and he would still go down as the greatest golfer this island has ever produced. But it wouldn’t be as gilded a legacy.
And the inevitability that he might bank a bag of majors in one fell swoop seems a distance off compared to what it was last summer.
As has been well documented, LIV Golf has been good for Rory McIlroy. The last nine months have seem him tee it up every time with the bit between his teeth, with defiance and self motivation in abundance.
Up until the end of 2021, McIlroy gave an impression that golf was secondary in his list of priorities and as fans lofted expectations of 8-10 majors over his head to become one of the all-time greats, he didn’t seem to subscribe to the theory that majors would define him. Until last year…
But as the PGA Tour and LIV edge closer to a world where they both co-exist, McIlroy’s job as ‘golf’s superhero’ is drawing to a close, meaning his cape will no longer be of use.
Now that the finish line is in sight, McIlroy (who has admitted this) looks a slightly jaded figure, mentally all the meetings and constant fronting up at press conferences has undoubtedly taken a toll. But you don’t feel that anguish when you are in the zone, once the pressure drops though, that sense of relief can take away that adrenaline.
Golf club issues will sew the seed of doubt in many fans’ minds ahead of Augusta as it appears the four-time major champion is searching for a spark again.
His sudden lethargic nature won’t ruin his season, he will compete to win all four majors. But, his administrative duties look like they have reached their inevitable conclusion.
McIlroy will already be judged upon whether he can complete the Career Grand Slam before his career is out, but not arresting his major drought would certainly leave a void in his career whether he feels like that or not.
It’s time to play golf.
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