Although it feels like it’s been quite a bit longer, it was just September of 2012 when Rory McIlroy was putting the finishing touches on his breakthrough season. That year, he won four times, including the PGA Championship and two FedEx Cup playoff titles. He brought home over $8 million in winnings, and more importantly, appeared poised to finally take over the top spot in the golf world from Tiger Woods.
Of course, fast forward 18 months to today, and we all know what’s happened since then. McIlroy wasn’t objectively bad, necessarily, but combining disappointing finishes with the Woods’s resurgence, and you realize just how quickly his world changed. Instead of being the anointed one, suddenly McIlroy wasn’t capable of doing anything right.
Thankfully, that seems to be turning around this year. McIlroy won in Australia over the winter, but he has yet to complete the turnaround on the PGA Tour. Given his recent performance, that could change as soon as this weekend at the Wells Fargo Championship.
Really, McIlroy’s been right there all year. He’s placed in the top-25 in each stroke play event he’s played this year, ranking fourth in adjusted scoring average at 69.618. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen all too frequently, his putting has let him down.
There wasn’t much better of a display of that than his run at this year’s Masters. According to a recent report, McIlroy counted 15 putts inside of eight feet that he missed on Augusta’s greens. He finished third to last in total putting at the year’s first major, and it really cost him a chance at the green jacket. Take half of those 15 missed putts and suddenly he’s in contention down the stretch with Bubba Watson and Jordan Spieth.
McIlroy believes he’s got those issues figured out, and if he does, he’ll be dangerous at Quail Hollow, a course that should hold some positive memories for him. The North Carolina track was the home of his first win on Tour back in 2010, and he’s placed in the top ten there each of the last two years.
It may be halfway through the PGA Tour’s extended calendar, but the real meat of the schedule is still ahead. With The PLAYERS and the U.S. Open just around the corner, look for McIlroy to jumpstart his season this week.