Irish golfing legend, Paul McGinley believes that based on form, it is hard to look past Rory McIlroy winning the Masters at Augusta next weekend.
McIlroy recently won golf’s ‘fifth major’, the Players Championship, and is heading into next week’s most famous event rich in form.
According to McGinley, guys are so used to playing the course that it is anybody’s guess who will win, but based on form this year, McIlroy is out in front at present.
“It’s so hard to call when it comes to the Masters, everybody knows, the guys have got used to playing the golf course and are so familiar with how to get around the golf course that it brings so many extra people into the equation.
“If you’re looking purely at form, there’s no doubt that Rory has got the best form of anybody, you’d have to say of anybody in the game over the first three months of the year. He’s risen from the nine in the world I think at the start of the year to now three and it looks very impressive.”
The former Ryder Cup captain recently delved into the archives in order to pull up the County Down golfer’s statistics, only to find that his current statistics are almost identical to the summer of 2014 when McIlroy went through the most successful spell of his career.
McGinley believes he has dominated the rest of the field from the tee and this is bound to have him confident heading to Augusta next week.
“It’s not just a run of having good results, if you look behind the statistics, I ran the stats last week on… his best three months of his career was summer 2014 and I did the stats last week on those three months, that summer when he won two majors and a world golfing event and compared them to the three months at the start of the year and they were almost identical which is unbelievable.
“It’s unbelievable to see that, that it’s actually not just a performance or the finishes, he can get the finishes alright, but that’s behind him in terms of how he’s completely dominating everybody in the world off the tee.
“He’s nearly triple better than the second placed guy in terms of driving off the tee, completely dominating golf courses off the tee and everything else is very compatible to 2014 even his putting which is slightly better now than what it was in 2014 so it’s a pretty formidable start to the season for McIlroy. He’s got to be buoyed by the trend and it sets him up very nicely as he tried to achieve the Grand Slam.”
A long-awaited win at the Masters would secure McIlroy’s legacy having completed the famous Grand Slam, however, he has tried repeatedly to put to bed the ghosts of his Augusta past and has yet to do so.
McGinley believes that of course, McIlroy feels the pressure, but that is nothing new as every golfer goes through it and having achieved all he has done so far it’s wrong to question his mentality.
“The pressure gets to everybody there’s no doubt about that, there’s never been a player in the history of the game who hasn’t had to deal with pressure, but I mean McIlroy, it’s hard to be critical of his performances under pressure, look at what he’s achieved. Only Tiger (Woods) and Jack Nicklaus have achieved more at the age of 30.”
The Dubliner believes it’s a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ in the case of Rory McIlroy completing golf’s Grand Slam. With the help of expert, Brad Faxon, his putting game has improved significantly and McGinley believes we are witnessing a more mature and consistent McIlroy than we have done before.
“I think it’s a question of time and it’s a question of being patient, all the things he’s doing at the moment. I think Brad Faxon is having a huge influence on him behind the scenes and we’re seeing a different attitude from McIlroy this year.
“We’re seeing a more mellow McIlroy, a more mature McIlroy, a more consistent McIlroy and all of those things are going into a cocktail of very high performances week after week and it’s a question of being patient, winning majors and winning masters and winning Grand Slams is not easy there’s a reason why only five guys in the history of the game have achieved it and there’s a number of guys, Phil Mickelson, standing on the threshold for a number of years now trying to get over the line as a Grand Slam winner.
“It’s a very difficult thing to achieve and I think he’s becoming better equipped to be able to achieve it, put it that way.”