A closer look at Rory McIlroy’s long wait for a fifth major crown

A closer look at Rory McIlroy’s long wait for a fifth major crown

Rory McIlroy had to settle for a runner-up finish at the US Open as his long wait for a fifth major title continued.

McIlroy finished one stroke behind first-time major winner Wyndham Clark at Los Angeles Country Club, meaning he has still not lifted one of golf’s four biggest prizes since his success at the US PGA Championship in 2014.

Here, the PA news agency looks at McIlroy’s long wait and the near misses among the way.

Turning of the tide

McIlroy said after Sunday’s heartbreaking finish that an eventual fifth major would be worth “100 Sundays like this” and he is now a third of the way there, with 33 appearances at majors since his last win.

He has 19 top-10 and 10 top-five finishes in that time, with his recent form in particular indicating an overdue success is on the way.

McIlroy has finished in the top 10 in six of the seven major tournaments this season and last and 11 of the last 17, with Sunday marking his second runner-up finish in that time.

The other came at last year’s Masters, albeit three strokes behind winner Scottie Scheffler, and was followed by eighth and fifth at the US PGA Championship and US Open respectively and third place at the Open Championship – two shots behind champion Cameron Smith.

After missing the cut at Augusta in April he was back to form with a tie for seventh at the US PGA before pushing Clark all the way.

Roll of honour

Wyndham Clark celebrates with the US Open trophy
Wyndham Clark is the 24th different major winner since McIlroy’s last success (Matt York/AP)

There have been 24 different major winners since McIlroy’s last success, with Brooks Koepka headlining that list with five wins.

Koepka won the US Open in 2017 and 2018 and the US PGA in 2018, 2019 and this year.

Jordan Spieth has won three majors in that time – the Masters and US Open in 2015 and the Open two years later – while Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm have two apiece.

Clark is the 18th different player to win a single major in that stretch, including six European Ryder Cup team-mates of McIlroy in Danny Willett, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry and Matt Fitzpatrick.

Americans Zach Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed, Tiger Woods, Gary Woodland, Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson and Scheffler have won one each, along with Australians Jason Day and Smith and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.


A handful of players have won majors after a longer wait that McIlroy’s current drought, though if he is to win again while avoiding the top 10 of that list it will have to be at next month’s Open.

Julius Boros won his two US Open titles in 1952 and 1963, 11 years and nine days apart, with Hale Irwin going a day over 11 years between his 1979 and 1990 wins.

Ben Crenshaw won the Masters in 1984 and 1995, coming in just six days shy of the 11-year mark, while Henry Cotton won the Open in 1937 and 1948.

Tiger Woods’ memorable victory at the 2019 Masters came almost 11 years on from his 2008 US Open win, with Lee Trevino and Ernie Els also cracking the 10-year barrier.

John Henry Taylor and Bob Martin waited just over nine years between major wins, with Willie Park Sr just three days shy of that mark at the 1875 Open.

No other player has exceeded McIlroy’s current wait and there is a further note of caution as only Boros and Taylor of that top 10 went on to add further major titles, and then only one more apiece – Boros at the 1968 US PGA and Taylor the 1913 Open.