If you needed any convincing that current World Number One golfer Rory McIlroy was the real deal, then his performances over the past few tournaments should have laid any lingering doubts firmly to rest.
Not satisfied with trouncing the field in the last Major the season, winning the USPGA title by eight shots, he then began his quest for FEDEX Cup success by winning the Deutsche Bank Championship and then a week later, followed up that success with another victory in the BMW Invitational at Crooked Stick Golf Club.
Not since the time of Tiger Wood’s dominance of the game in the early 2000′s had golf witnessed a run of form quite like McIlroy is showing at the moment. Indeed, since becoming world number one on the back of his USPGA win, it seems that McIlroy has found another level to his incredible game.
To put his achievements into persepective, in 2012 Rory McIlroy became the first ever European in the history of golf to win four times in a single US PGA Tour season, he is the first person since Tiger Woods in 2005 to achieve that feat and he is also now well clear of his rivals atop the PGA Tour money list.
In the FedEx Cup race, he is now projected to be over 3,200 points ahead of his nearest rival Tiger Woods as they head into the final tournament of the season on 20th to 23rd September, the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia.
Additionally, in his last three tournament wins alone, McIlroy has earned in excess of $4.2m and stands to land a $10m bonus if he becomes the next FedEx Cup winner.
These statistics clearly prove that McIlroy’s world number one status as a golfer is indisputable. As Tiger Woods remarked yesterday when interviewed by American television, Rory was not just winning the tournament but “putting on a show.”
Yet despite his level of success and undeniable brilliance with a club in his hand, perhaps the most remarkable thing about Rory McIlroy is how likeable he is.
For sure, he has had his moments of young naivety, such as when he labelled the Old Course at St Andrews a “pitch and putt” course, or when he claimed that any member of the European Ryder Cup team of 2010 would ‘fancy their chances’ against an out of form Tiger Woods.
He also famously lambasted commentator Jay Townsend after he criticised McIlroy’s caddie J.P.Fitzgerald, labelling the TV presenter a “failed golfer” and that “his opinion meant nothing”.
Yet despite this, it is Rory’s brilliance on the course, combined with his general good humour, good demeanour and friendliness off it that has won him so many fans.
Indeed, it is telling that while a snapshot of Tiger Woods best moments would all be about golf, as we shall see in our little countdown below, there is a more human side to McIlroy that is all the more appealling to many.
So what is the secret to Rory’s success? If anybody knew that, they’d make millions in the space of a few days. We can but speculate as to why the Northern Irishman who hails from Holywood, is just so good.
But our guess is simply that despite the trappings of fame and fortune and the pressures he is under, Rory McIlroy has never, ever fell out of love with the game of golf. His enjoyment on the course is there for all to see, whether he is winning a tournament or not.
It is not just how McIlroy plays golf that inspires so many, but his attitude to it. His love for the game is clear as is his enjoyment of life and it is wonderful to see a player express this so often.
Phil Mickelson is the closest America comes to a golfer who has McIlroy’s warm and friendly personality, Tiger Woods may have the game to match McIlroy, but McIlroy’s true genius is that he packs the best of both of these players, into one unassuming 23-year-old lad, who loves his job, his girlfriend and his football club and just happens to be the best in the world at what he does.
Our Top 5 Rory Moments…
1. Rory Wins the US Open
2. Rory gives his girlfriend a helping hand…
3. Rory wins the USPGA Championship and breaks Jack Nicklaus’ world record for margin of victory.
4. Rory’s first TV appearance on Ulster TV as a 9-year old
5. ..And then repeating the trick a few years later on a Sky TV Comedy quiz show!
Images by Gorilla Golf Blog and Rory McIlroy Facebook