To quote the philosophy of Tiger Woods – and his marketing folks at Nike – winning takes care of everything.
That was Woods’s response during the 2012 Tour Championship, regarding whether or not he was intimidated by Rory McIlroy. Little did he know at the time that the same philosophy would apply to McIlroy himself just 18 months later.
Back then, people thought that Tiger had lost his aura, the killer instinct that made him who he was. This week, just before the BMW PGA Championship, McIlroy was dealing with a different type of issue, but one that people thought was just as likely to affect his performance on the course.
The young Ulsterman did a fine job assuaging those concerns this weekend at one of the European Tour‘s flagship events. Starting the day seven shots behind 54-hole leader Thomas Bjorn, McIlroy shot a six-under-par round of 66 to complete the biggest comeback victory of his career. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
“I was just focusing on the job at hand which was to play golf and get the ball in the hole in the lowest number of shots possible,” McIlroy told media after the tournament. “It’s obviously been a week of very mixed emotions, but I’m sitting here looking at this trophy going, `How the hell, how did it happen this week?’ But it did.”
McIlroy had already been having a solid year, with top-tens in six of eight PGA Tour events and nine in his last ten worldwide. This one has to mean a little more, though. As I said a few days ago when news of McIlroy’s breakup with Caroline Wozniacki first came to light, it had to be hard going through all this in such a public fashion. Now, we may be looking at not only a more mature McIlroy, but one who can now be laser-focused on dominating on the course once again.
It’s just one tournament, but considering what must have been going on in his head all week, it looks like McIlroy is going to be just fine going forward, and that makes him a more dangerous competitor than he’s ever been before.