Loading scores...
Player Profile

Rory McIlroy: the season so far

by Dave Tindall
Updated On: April 20, 2020, 4:51 pm ET

Age: 30

 

World ranking (current/end of year)

Current: 1st
2019: 2nd
2018: 8th
2017: 11th
2016: 2nd

 

Current 2020 Stats

FedEx Cup Rank: 3rd
Events: 6
Wins: 1
Top 10: 6
Top 25: 6
Made Cut: 6
Money: $3,832,721

 

Strokes Gained

Off-The-Tee: 6th (2019: 1st, 2018: 6th, 2017: 2nd)
Approach: 3rd (2019: 12th, 2018: 56th, 2017: 48th)
Around The Green: 19th (2019: 19th, 2018: 18th, 2017: 70th)
Putting: 92nd (2019: 24th, 2018: 97th, 2017: 159th)
Tee-To-Green: 2nd (2019: 1st, 2018: 6th, 2017: 8th)
Total: 2nd (2019: 1st, 2018: 9th, 2017: 17th)

 

Analysis

As listed, Rory has six top tens from six starts this season. It's actually better than that as all were top fives and, adding in worldwide results, it's September since he last didn't finish in the top five (current streak is eight in a row). His 2020 numbers are all what you'd expect them to be for this talent: he's superb off the tee, an elite ball striker and is sharp around the greens. McIlroy's putter is his traditional weakness and his 24th place in SG: Putting last year was clearly a big reason why he closed in on World No. 1 again, a position he grabbed back earlier this season. A win at the HSBC Champions, his third WGC victory, is the highlight so far and next stop - when he gets the chance - will be adding a fifth major. 

Grade so far: A- 

 

Rory McIlroy 2020 quotes

WGC-HSBC Champions (on improved mental strength): "I think maybe more so than say when I first came out on Tour, I try 100 per cent over every shot, I think because I realize I don't have as much time left as I used to when I was 20. Even if I'm having a bad day, I'm trying over every single shot. My concentration is better and my mental capacity on the golf course is much better than it ever has been, and I think that's a big key to why I'm able to play consistently week-in, week-out."

WGC-HSBC Champions (assessing his career and where it is now): "I've had some great seasons. 2012, I won five times. That's still the most I've ever won in a calendar year. I won four times in 2014, four times in 2015. I won my first FedExCup in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, I had a couple injuries and went through changing equipment, as well, and there was just a couple of things. I was a little unsettled, I guess. But the last 18 months, I've been very settled. I've been comfortable with everything, my game, my equipment, my body's been healthy, or healthier. I struggled with some back problems in my early 20s, and knock-on-wood, my body feels as good as it ever has at 30. I'm excited for the future. I feel like this year (2019) compares to 2014, 2015, but I don't see any reason why I can't go ahead and have an even better year (2020) next year."

WGC-Mexico Championship (on playing at altitude): “I've always felt like I played well at altitude. I've played well here (5-2-7). I've played well over in Europe and Switzerland (2-3-7-2 at Crans) a couple of times. I feel like I adjust pretty well to it, and that's really what it's all about. That's what it's all about this week is just trying to adjust and trust your numbers and make sure you know how far the ball is going."

Arnold Palmer Invitational (on the importance of ShotLink data): "Yeah, I use them a lot. It's one thing I keep harping on about to the TOUR is actually having ShotLink data on every round that we play, like North Course at Torrey Pines doesn't have it, the other two courses at Pebble when we play there doesn't have it. I think a lot of the guys are starting to use ShotLink data; it's course management, but it's also how you practice. So I got a stats report last week after the three weeks that I've had at Torrey Pines, at Riviera, and Mexico, and that's what I base my practice off going into the next few weeks. My bunker play wasn't up to the same standards it needed to be. I needed to get better from 6 to 12 feet. It's stuff that you sort of know anyway, but it's nice when you have that objective data in front of you. So I use it for a lot of different things. It is very important."

THE PLAYERS Championship (on growing to like Pete Dye courses): "So 2010 Whistling Straits was when I turned a corner. I turned up there, it was the PGA Championship, and I hated it. Like I really did not like it. I had to tell myself, look, you just need to like it for one week. Just get your head around liking this place for one week and embracing the fact that it's different and the fact that it's visually a little funky and whatever. I ended up finishing third that week and one shot out of a playoff, and I think that was when I sort of had turned a corner. I never liked how he made you feel on the golf course in terms of hiding things and angles, and it makes you a little bit uncomfortable, which is obviously his plan. Like he's a wonderful designer of golf courses, but that was the week where I had to embrace what Pete tried to put into his golf courses. Yeah, going on from there, winning at Kiawah (2012 PGA Championship), winning at Crooked Stick (2012 BMW Championship), winning here (2019 PLAYERS), I've started to quite like them. But as you said, an acquired taste. They're like beer when you're younger. You sort of don't like it but then you think it's cool to drink it and then you sort of acquire a taste for it."

 

THE MAJORS (most recent result on the left)

The Masters: 21-5-7-10-4-8-25-50-15-MC-20

The one that Rory still needs to complete the set and join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as golf's only Career Grand Slam winners. Of course, 2011 remains his 'Sliding Doors' moment. Had he turned his four-shot lead after 54 holes into victory rather than spiral out of control and shoot 80, McIlroy could have been a multiple green jacket winner. Still, he's made the top 25 in each of the last seven Masters and connected five top tens from 2014-2018. With the usual rhythms of the calendar interrupted, perhaps a November Masters could be the difference maker for McIlroy with none of the usual 'it's April, is this my year?' thoughts spinning in his mind.

PGA Championship: 8-50-22-MC-17-1-8-1-64-3-3

As with the Masters, McIlroy owns an impressive 10-for-11 slate. The difference is that he's won two of these, taking victory by a massive eight strokes at Kiawah Island in 2012 and edging out Phil Mickelson by a shot at Valhalla in 2014. He's also had two thirds and two other top tens although just one in the last five editions. With the tournament set for Harding Park this year, a third win for Rory is very much on the cards. He has happy memories of the California track having won the WGC-Match Play there in 2015, beating Gary Woodland 4&2 in the final. He said back then: "I never played Harding Park before. I enjoyed it much better than the other course across the Bay (laughter). Sorry if there's any Olympic fans here (Rory missed the cut at Olympic with 77-73 when it staged the 2012 U.S. Open). But, as soon as I played the course (Harding Park), I liked it. It's a fair test of golf. You get rewarded for good shots. It suited my eye. I like big trees that frame holes and you've got a lot of definition to work the ball off stuff. I really enjoyed the golf course this week and enjoyed it as a whole."

U.S. Open: 9-MC-MC-MC-9-23-41-MC-1-MC-10

Always a special tournament for Rory as it gave him his first major when he stormed to an eight-shot victory at Congressional in 2011. However, that also offers a hint as to why he's been patchy (just 6-for-11) in the tournament since then and hasn't won any major since 2014. McIlroy won at Congressional with a record 16-under and between 2001 and 2016 that was the only U.S. Open won with double digits under par. Looking through McIlroy's career and he's never won a tournament on either the PGA TOUR or European Tour with a winning score higher than 12-under. Very tough major courses can act at kyrptonite so bear that in mind when noting that the last U.S. Open to be held at this year's venue, Winged Foot, was won with +5. Rory will hope it plays more forgiving, as it did when Davis Love III won the 1997 PGA there with -11 and Fuzzy Zoeller the 1984 U.S. Open with -7.

Open Championship: MC-2-4-5-DNP-1-MC-60-25-3-47-DNP-42.

Rory fluffed his lines at Royal Portrush last summer but when the next Open comes around (2021 at Royal St. George's), he should definitely be in the crosshairs. Before his 2019 agony, he'd enjoyed a win and three top fives in his previous four cracks at the claret jug. It's fairly easy to dismiss his poor early Open record as he had the hump with the event, complaining about having to change to a low-ball links game for one week in the year. But during that run he was a reasonable T25 at Royal St. George's, starting well but struggling in the bad weather on the weekend. "I'm not a fan of golf tournaments when the outcome is predicted so much by the weather. It's not my sort of golf," said a petulant McIlroy back in 2011. He'll have a much more mature approach this time.

Dave Tindall
Dave Tindall is former golf editor at Sky Sports.com in the UK and has been writing betting previews for the European Tour since 1997. He can be reached via e-mail on tindall_david@hotmail.com and on Twitter @davetindallgolf.