Rory McIlroy’s season didn’t end in spectacular fashion, closing out with a 70 for a 10-under total and a tie for 22nd at the DP World Tour Championship, but he still ended up on the podium as he collected his fifth Race to Dubai title and signed off on another successful year that saw him win two of the DP World Tour’s Rolex Series event and play a starring role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory in Rome.
“It’s great,” he said of topping the Order of Merit for the second year running and fifth time overall. “I think it shows my consistency year-to-year. I think over the last ten years, I think I’ve won eight season-long titles between America and between here, so it just shows my level of consistency. I said to Harry on the last green, there’s a few guys that are able to beat me sort of one week or the next week but I don’t think there’s a lot of people that can beat me throughout the entire season.
“It’s just about trying to be a little more clinical when I get to those weeks where I have chances to win. Overall, it’s been another really solid year. Stroke average has been great and I’ve played really good golf, really consistent. Hopefully more of the same going into next year and beyond.”
In collecting his fifth Harry Vardon Trophy, McIlroy moves to third on the all-time Order of Merit winners’ list, one behind Seve Ballesteros and three shy of Colin Montgomerie who famously won seven-in-a-row in the 1990s and eight overall, and the four-time major winner sees no reason why he can’t finish his career as the all-time most successful Tour member.
“Yeah, still got a little bit left in the tank,” he said. “I think I’ve still got a good eight to ten years left in me where I can play at the top, top level.
“Yeah, I’d like to think that I’m going to challenge, at least try to get past Seve and then sort of try to get past Monty as well. But it’s certainly a goal of mine for the rest of my career to do something like that. It would mean a lot to me.”
Despite all his success in recent seasons, a Rolex Series win was one of the few accolades in the game that eluded him, but he put that to bed with victory in the Hero Dubai Desert Classic back in January and then doubled down with a win at the Genesis Scottish Open in July with a grandstand finish including one of the shots of the year with his 2-iron approach to the last.
“When I won my first in Dubai at start of the year, Harry said to me, “It took you long enough,” because every time we would go out and play with someone, the caddies would have a gold bib and he wouldn’t,” he fondly recalled. “He was like, “When am I going to get a gold bib?”
“So it was nice to finally win one of those in Dubai and follow it up in Scotland, which is probably one of the best finishes I’ve ever had in a golf tournament. That was an unbelievable finish those last two holes. It was great to do that, and obviously those tournaments combined with my good play in the majors and the world Match Play, WGC, it sort of got me to a point where it made these last few weeks a little more comfortable.”