In a tumultuous year for golf, Rory McIlroy stood out both on and off the course, almost ready to prove something while playing it out from the battle within the game.
McIlroy did not win the DP World Tour Championship on Sunday, finishing four strokes behind Jon Rahm in the season-ending event in Dubai. But he captured the season-long Race to Dubai title, giving him the FedEx Cup in the same year as well, a feat achieved by Henrik Stenson in 2013.
Along the way, McIlroy decided to become a louder voice, speaking out on behalf of the PGA Tour and DP World Tour, pushing back against the disruption of the LIV Golf League, even making it personal with some players. Also going for, who had jumped. new circuit.
At times, McIlroy has admitted recently that LIV golfers deserve world ranking points and he hopes there can be some solution between the LIV and major tours as the sport moves down a dangerous road filled with animosity.
McIlroy took to the PGA Tour and, with the help of Tiger Woods, chaired a hastily called meeting in August that led to significant changes to top player requirements and compensation starting in 2023.
Some would say that those changes, as well as the massive increase in prize money and potential bonus amounts, should have happened sooner as a way to thwart the LIV golf exodus. And yet, it happened, and it probably wouldn’t have happened without the role played by Woods and McIlroy.
“There’s a lot everybody has to go through on Tour,” McIlroy said after winning the Tour Championship in August. “Even those who have gone to LIV have suffered a lot. It has been a very tumultuous era for our sport.
And yet somehow, McIlroy has managed to either cast it aside—or channel it—into having one of the best years of his career.
His Race to Dubai title was his first since 2013 and fourth overall. He has won the FedEx Cup three times. This year, he won the Canadian Open, the Tour Championship and the CJ Cup on the PGA Tour.
In 22 combined starts worldwide, he had those three wins, 12 top-five finishes and 15 top 10s. Since finishing runner-up at the Masters, he has missed one cut and has had no worse than 19th.
He also returned to No. 1 in the world.
“I’m as complete a golfer as I think I’ve always been,” McIlroy said after his final-round 68 at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. And hopefully I can continue on that path. Not just continuing to play this level of golf but trying to build on that and see if there are any incremental improvements I can make going forward.
“I feel like if my driving is not on one day, I feel like my putting will save me. I feel like if my putting is not on, my iron play will save me, and if my iron play is on If not, my short game will work. I used to rely heavily on one or two aspects of the game, but now I feel I am pretty proficient in all areas.”
As great a year as it has been for McIlroy, there is one nagging blot: an inability to add a fifth major championship to the four he earned through 2014. Amazingly, it would last nine years until 2023 when Don and McIlroy would be in the green jackets and focused on a Masters title that would give them a career Grand Slam.
McIlroy admitted that there were many sleepless nights following the British Open at St Andrews. It’s hard to believe that the four-to-one tournament leader (along with Victor Hovland) could lose after hitting all 18 greens in regulation. And yet, that’s what happened, as McIlroy’s final-round 70 at the Home of Golf was eclipsed by a 64 by winner Cam Smith, one of the all-time final rounds.
But it was McIlroy’s play in the majors that ultimately led him to the Race to Dubai title. He played in only 10 counting events, winning none. But he finished second in the Masters, eighth in the PGA, fifth in the US Open and third in The Open. He also played 14 fewer events than Race to Dubai runner-up Ryan Fox of New Zealand.
“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 sport since then. Since winning my last race in Dubai I’ve won three FedExCups,” he said.
“I’ve been through a lot and all I can do is keep my head down, work hard and play the way I’ve been playing. But like I said, I’m really encouraged by how I’ve played in the majors this year, how I’ve started and it’s really something to build on for next year.
“It’s an amazing achievement, a feat that I haven’t been able to achieve before, and that I’ve been able to win the rankings on this tour and finish the year as world No. 1. But to do that in the US as well so yeah, that’s great. i keep saying i’ve been a pro for over 15 years, and still try to figure out ways to try new things to accomplish, that’s what keeps me coming back Is.”
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