Can Rory McIlroy Win A Major This Year?

February 23, 2017

- Grant Whittington

It is easy to forget that Rory McIlroy is still yet to turn 28 years of age. He is the winner of four major titles, the leading face of his sport and a man who carries the weight of Northern Ireland on his shoulders. Over the past century, the only golfer who achieved more by the age of 25 is Tiger Woods and like the American, McIlroy has become a victim of expectations caused by his own incredible success.

Yet doubts over his staying power remain. 2017 is so far shaping up to a year to forget in the career of McIlroy that has stalled since his thrilling 2014 US PGA Championship victory – the last of his major triumphs. Doubts are creeping in; alarm bells are ringing and his well-documented injury problems appear no closer to disappearing.

Two years without a major would be nothing to worry about for any ordinary golfer, but then again McIlroy with a club in his hands is capable of producing the extraordinary and making the ridiculous look effortless. It wasn’t even twelve months ago that he was conjuring up two magical strokes of the highest quality to claim the Irish Open.

In his one tournament appearance so far this campaign at the South African Open, McIlroy, was noticeably competing with a back problem which required anti-inflammatory tablets and was still able to take eventual winner Graeme Storm to a play-off.

His lack of playing time since then could prove to be advantageous when the former world returns to action from a rib stress fracture caused by lengthy periods on the range testing new equipment during the Christmas break.

The former number one is targeting a return to the greens of Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico at the beginning of March – just a month before the season’s opening major at Augusta. The Masters remains the missing piece from his golfing jigsaw – his chance at immersing himself into the history books by becoming just the sixth player to claim all four majors during his career.

Even with February seemingly a complete write-off, one should expect McIlroy to at least be competitive when the contest to don the prestigious green jacket gets underway. The leading lights of every sport peak for the big events and his spell on the sidelines may help drive away any uncertainties that are lingering as well as ensuring he is in the best possible condition ahead of his comeback to the PGA Tour.

His sights will be on success at April’s Masters as he aims to complete the career grand slam and regain top spot in the rankings, currently held by Australian Jason Day. However, one should never discount McIlroy’s chances at any of the top events – he has the all-round game and knowhow to pose a significant threat to the rest of the field.

But for long can he sustain his motivation? If he was to finally master Augusta, would his passion and drive begin to wilt? McIlroy is on the path to joining the pantheon of immortal golfers and even if a fifth major doesn’t arrive this year, it is hard to imagine the County Down prodigy failing to pick up at least one or two more in the near future. After all, form is temporary, class is permanent.

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