Rory McIlroy / Image from Getty Images
Justin Rose saw first-hand a year ago what it is like to play second fiddle to a victory charging Rory McIlroy as they were paired together for the final round of the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational.
It was nip-and-tuck all the way around the Bay Hill course until McIlroy began a run of four birdies in succession from the 13th and then sealed a first victory in some 18-months with a 21-foot birdie putt on 18 for a round of 64 to win by three shots.
The victory was McIlroy’s 14th PGA Tour triumph, a first since he was married and also a first ‘W’ with Best Man, Harry Diamond on the bag.
Perhaps disappointingly, it was McIlroy’s last taste of success too, with the 29-year old now in the midst of the fourth largest time gap between wins in his pro career.
But one man who hasn’t been lulled into a false sense of security is Rose, the Irishman’s Ryder Cup winning team-mate, who believes you can never underestimate Mcllroy’s ability to win.
“I actually played the last round alongside Rory last year and we were both right there and having a good tussle down the stretch and then he chipped-in for birdie on 15 and that I felt was the turning point,” said Rose.
“It is always good to see Rory win because he makes winning look good.
“He’s got that type of game that when he does win, he makes it looks so easy that it makes you think why he isn’t winning week-in and week-out, but we all know golf doesn’t work that way.
“There are many aspects that go into winning and it’s not just looking comfortable on a golf course and swinging the club beautifully, you have to make putts here and there.
“Rory ran into ‘DJ’ in Mexico and this is despite shooting 16-under par but clearly he plays well enough to win a golf tournament and in Mexico, he just ran into the wrong guy in the wrong week.
“So, Rory is doing a lot of good things and if I was Rory, I would basically be saying to myself, just to be patient and just keep focussing on what I am doing and keep creating chances.
“One win in 12 months is not going to be acceptable to Rory but the great thing about Rory, and when you are competing against him it’s not a great thing, but when he’s questioned, he kind of somehow snaps into a gear and proves a lot of people wrong.
“He’s done that a lot of times in his career.
“So, I should be careful about saying too much (smiling).”
RORY MCILROY – THE GAP BETWEEN HIS 23 PRO CAREER VICTORIES
First win – 2009 Dubai Desert Classic
Second win – 15 months later – 2010 Qual Hollow
Third win – 14 months – 2011 US Open
Fourth win – 6 months – 2011 Hong Kong Open
Fifth win – 3 months – 2012 Honda Classic
Sixth win – 2 months – 2012 BMW PGA
Seventh win – 3 months – 2012 PGA Championship
Eighth win – 3 weeks – 2012 Deutsche Bank Championship
Ninth win – 1 week – 2012 BMW Championship
10th win – 3 months – 2012 DP World Tour Championship
11th win – 13 months – 2013 Australian Open
12th win – 5 months – 2014 BMW PGA
13th win – 2 months – 2014 Open Championship
14th win – 2 weeks – WGC – Bridgestone Invitational
15th win – 1 week -2014 PGA Championship
16th win – 5 months – 2015 Dubai Desert Classic
17th win – 2 months – 2015 WGC – Cadillac Match-Play
18th win – 2 weeks – 2015 Wells Fargo
19th win – 6 months – 2015 DP World Tour Championship
20th win – 6 months – 2016 Irish Open
21st win – 4 months – 2016 Deutsche Bank Championship
22nd win – 3 weeks – 2016 Tour Championship
23rd – 18 months – 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational
24th – 12 months and counting…