By Matt Cohen
His second Race to Dubai trophy to his left, Rory McIlroy was asked about his 2015 goals during the trophy presentation last fall in Dubai.
He didn’t think long:
“Green jacket,” he said. “That’s the only one left to complete the collection. I’ve got a chance to complete the career Grand Slam at 25, something I never thought would be possible. So I’m going to work really hard and make sure I’m ready to go for April.”
At 25, McIlroy has already accomplished more than most golfers dream in a career. The World Number One has four Major Championships to his name, is a two-time PGA Player of the Year and has helped lead Europe to three consecutive Ryder Cup victories.
All that’s left is Sunday at Augusta.
“It’s not something I thought possible, I will work hard and make sure I’m ready for that,” McIlroy told reporters after tying for second at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, the European Tour season-ender.
A win at Augusta this Spring would not only complete McIlroy’s career Grand Slam, it would leave him a U.S. Open victory two months later shy of completing the ‘Rory Slam.’
He’s started off 2015 with a bang, winning the Dubai Dessert Classic in record fashion.
“Rory is an unbelievable talent,” said Jack Nicklaus last year. “I think Rory has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing. I love his swing, I love his rhythm, I love his moxie. He’s got a little swagger there, it’s a little bit cocky but not offensive.”
McIlroy’s 2010 Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie agrees, telling Kicca.com in a recent interview that Rory has already surpassed Tiger Woods in his prime.
“Tiger Woods is going to come back into the frame,” said Montgomerie. “Is he going to be able to get back, not just to the levels he was but better than that? Because that’s where Rory McIlroy’s taken the standard of golf: to one level beyond where Tiger was.”
“Can he win all four in a year? That’s another question on people’s lips within our game. Can he win all four in a year, never mind two? That means six in a row. Wow, that’ll be something.”
To his credit, McIlroy, who now resides in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, doesn’t seem to mind the pressure that is sure to come in April. It’s the same pressure that comes with being ranked World Number One.
“I used to be uncomfortable. There’s added scrutiny and there’s added criticism,” said McIlroy. “But I learned to deal with it. It’s just part of the title. I want to keep it for as long as I possibly can.”
A win at Augusta would make McIlroy just the 6th golfer in history to complete the career Grand Slam (Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods the other five).
So what’s the moral of the story? Still approaching his prime, it’s not a matter of if McIlroy completes the career Grand Slam, but when. We’re watching one of the greatest golfers of all time. Enjoy it folks.