Rory McIlroy, who many have believed was fading because he hasn’t won a major since the 2014 PGA Championship as guys like Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, and Dustin Johnson have come on strong, is now back near the top of the world golf rankings. McIlroy was last ranked number one in the world rankings after the 2015 U.S. Open in which he finished tied for ninth.
After the PGA Championship and the Barclays last season, McIlroy dropped back to fifth in the world rankings. He missed the cut at the PGA Championship and finished tied for 31st at the Barclays but bounced back with a PGA Tour win during the FedExCup playoffs at the Deutsche Bank Championship. After that win, McIlroy jumped to third in the rankings. The 27-year-old then won the Tour Championship and finished tied for fourth at the WGC-HSBC Champions to start this season which moved him to second behind Jason Day.
On a podcast with Chris Solomon, McIlroy, who has won four major tournaments, discussed people doubting that he still has what it takes to be the top golfer in the world and win more majors.
When asked if people forget how many majors four majors is to have won, and how hard it is to win a major, McIlroy responded:
It’s hard for me because everything nowadays, and it’s not just golf but sports media, it’s the culture that we live in. It’s so based on recency and what have you done for me lately, and since I’ve started to win majors there’s probably been about 10 different eras in golf and it bugs me because people don’t give players the time to develop and become what they want them to be and they need to have patience with it and generations and eras are built up after decades of playing against each other and not over two seasons and that’s the thing I struggle with a little bit because, and not just on me but I think with Jordan winning two majors in ’15 and it’s totally unfair because they build you up so much and Jordan hasn’t had a bad season this year, but he didn’t win a major and he did what he did at Augusta, but everyone’s asking what’s wrong with Jordan and then whenever he wins again they’ll say he’s back. No, he’s not, he was never gone, he’s not been anywhere, and that’s the thing that gets me.
You know, when I won the FedExCup they say oh Rory’s back, but I’m not back. I’ve been playing like this. It’s just sometimes it’s hard to put your point across sometimes when you try to elaborate on how difficult it is to win and how much competition there is out there, and I think the one thing for me, and I don’t want to put anyone down, but for example I’ve won four majors and there’s guys that have, you know, great players in this generation that have won one. For example the likes of DJ and Jason Day and whatever and they are possibly and probably gonna win more, but the one thing that I like to say is if they win three more majors they get to me. If I win three more majors I get to Arnold Palmer.”
Now McIlroy has a chance to reclaim the number one ranking that is held currently by one-time major winner Jason Day.
Via the AP:
McIlroy could have replaced Jason Day atop the rankings by winning the European Tour’s season-ending tournament, but Russell Knox’s decision to withdraw last week reduced the strength of the field and lowered the number of points available.
If Knox, ranked No. 18, had remained in the field, the winner of the tournament would have gained 54 points – enough for McIlroy to surpass Day. Instead, the winner will earn just 52 points, leaving McIlroy short even with a victory.
McIlroy is entered in the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai this week where he will not only be attempting to defend his title but to reclaim the number one ranking from Day. McIlroy has little chance of winning the Race to Dubai and he knows that but is optimistic about winning the tournament and reclaiming the top spot.
“I can win mathematically, but it’s not going to happen,” McIlroy said. “I wouldn’t hold my breath. I think the three guys that are ahead of me are playing very good golf, especially the two Swedes, Henrik and Alex.
“Alex, with what he’s done over the past few weeks; Henrik has had a fantastic year, and so has Danny, obviously, so I don’t expect those guys to play badly this week. I’m just concentrating on trying to win the golf tournament, and if I can do that, I’ll be very happy.”
A win and a move to the top of the world golf rankings would be a big boost for McIlroy heading into the 2016-2017 European Tour and PGA Tour seasons. It would also prove to those who have doubted him that he is still at the peak of his game.
He is only 27-years-old, so if you happen to be one of those who believes he is not going to win another major or finish his career without winning a Masters, take a step back and wait and see.