Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Many Majors for Rory McIlroy in 2013?

It's hard to believe that only three years ago the question would have been: how many Majors will Tiger win... now it's all Rory, Rory, Rory...

Is he really that much better than the players just behind him in the world rankings? Tiger has proved that he's not going away. Schwartzel has shown a fine run of form already this year. And then there's Luke and the mercurial genius of Phil 'Taxman' Mickelson. Too many players to choose from and there have been constant surprises over recent years. This is not an era of Rory dominance... at least not yet.

But someone has to be favourite and, for now, it's McIlroy... even with the Nike thing making him bigger news than usual and throwing some new parameters into the mix.

I asked the question and got 50 responses, as follows:
1 Major
2 Majors
3 Majors
All 4 Majors

Personally, I think four is ambitious. Partly because the slam is such a difficult thing to achieve, and partly because I think Muirfield presents his biggest challenge (assuming the wind blows). I see a strong possibility of two Majors, with three as a very faint possibility.

Which Majors?
What I didn't ask was, which Majors will he win?

My pick would be Augusta. His last two visits were fraught with despair so I'm guessing this time he overcomes it and delivers. He obviously likes the place and there's a sense of unfinished business.

The PGA will probably set up nicely for him too, especially if he hasn't won any of the other three.

The Open Championship at Muirfield? The course is very open, so unless there's no breeze, I don't see him winning. His comment from Royal St. George's about not doing all the work for one tournament a year was an eye-opener and something that has been reinforced by the places he plays (US predominantly) and where he wins. At some point, perhaps when he has added the Masters to his other two Major wins, he will turn all of his attention to the Open.

The US Open, at Merion, Pennsylvania, could also play into Rory's hand. It is a tough course, with greens that are regarded as having a links feel to them. The temperature will be around 22 degrees (72F)... so a links feel with modest temperatures. And Rory has proved often enough that the tougher the course the better he plays.

Other Factors?
1. Nike clubs... obviously. I'm one of the bemused as to why he switched from clubs that saw him winning consistently. I hope it's a match made in heaven.
2. Miss Wozniacki. There's speculation about engagement... but what would happen to his game if they broke up. These high profile relationships rarely seem to work out.
3. Every Other Golfer On The Planet. There is such a rich vein of talent these days that anyone could challenge for a Major. Rory could play brilliantly and still be beaten by playing the best golf of their life. Expect Schwartzel, Oousthuizen, Woods, Poulter, Rose, Scott, Snedeker, Bradley, Kuchar to appear on plenty of leaderboards. Westwood may do something he has been threatening to do for a long time, and Donald may make this the year he takes a Major. Too many to choose from, and I hope that Harrington makes me eat humble pie by coming back and winning something... even if it's not something big.

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