Rory McIlroy (pictured) is undoubtedly the player of 2012 as the 23 year old from Northern Ireland won most money on the US PGA and European Tours. He was emulating Luke Donald who became the first player to win both money lists 12 months earlier.
However, McIlroy played fewer tournaments than his closest rivals on the two Tours and still had a winning margin of more than one million dollars in both cases. That is testimony to his consistency that saw him play in 16 tournaments in America and finish in the top 10 eleven times.
The highlight of the season for McIlroy was winning the US PGA Championship by eight shots in August. He became the youngest multiple major champion since Severiano Ballesteros in 1980 and the sixth youngest of all time.
McIlroy now has a significant points lead in the world rankings. Donald or Tiger Woods will have to win at least one major and several regular tournaments to overhaul him in 2013. This could well be the beginning of an era in which McIlroy maintains his position in the rankings for a number of years.
The Irish player also won three other tournaments on the PGA Tour. That tally included two FedEx Cup play-off events. Only a scoring system weighted heavily in favour of the winner of the Tour Championship prevented McIlroy from winning the 10 million dollar FedEx Cup bonus.
McIlroy actually only won one regular European Tour event but that was the World Tour Championship. He earned enough points from the majors and world championship events to win the Race to Dubai title.
McIlroy also had a significant role in the Ryder Cup. Keegan Bradley looked unbeatable alongside Phil Mickelson over the first two days. However he was beaten in the singles by McIlroy even though McIlroy arrived at the course just ten minutes before he was due to play.
The world number one is now halfway to a career Grand Slam and he is destined to complete the set over the next three yeas. He has played well in the Masters in recent years and the British Open could be the most difficult to win.
McIlroy must surely realise that he has to win the Open to be considered one of the game’s greats. Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ballesteros and Woods have each won at least three Opens so McIlroy must display the skills and temperament to be the best player on the British coast for at least one week in his career.