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The Best & Worst Rory McIlroy Moments

By: | Tue 01 Feb 2022 | Comments

RORY McILROY is, in equal parts, the most thrilling and most frustrating golfer on the planet. At his very best there is no more naturally gifted golfer, smashing huge drives, producing stunning iron shots and holing putts for fun. When he is winning there is an arrogant jaunt to his stride but when it goes wrong his shoulders slump and he reminds us that he is all too human.

Here we look at the very best and very worst of the Northern Irishman.

10 of the Worst...

2022 Dubai Desert Classic

Rory had the tournament at his mercy when found a bush at the 71st hole but he produced a miraculous recovery shot to walk off the green with a highly unlikely par. It meant he came to the final hole, a par five, needing a birdie to win and a par to force his way into a playoff with Viktor Hovland and Richard Bland. With 265 yards to go he decided to go for the green with his second shot. But the moment he made contact with the ball he knew that it wasn’t going to clear the water protecting the green. It found a watery grave, he ended up with a bogey and missed out by a shot. He was devaststed.

2021 Ryder Cup

He won his singles match as Europe were thrashed 19-9 by the USA at Whistling Straits but he ended up in tears because his overall contribution had seen him dropped for a session for the first time in his career.

2021 DP Tour World Championship

McIlroy began the final round of the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and was tied for the lead when he came to the short par-four 15th. He struck a glorious drive and was left with a short approach. It hit the flag and the ball finished in a green side bunker. A certain birdie became a bogey and it was the start of a miserable finish. In the end, he finished five shots behind Collin Morikawa as he dropped further shots at the 16th and 18th holes.

2011 Masters

Rory began the field round with a four-shot lead. It would surely be a victory procession. Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way and ended the day 10 shots behind eventual winner Charl Schwartzel. He dropped shots at the first and the fifth holes but was still in contention when he came to the 10th hole. He hit a wild hook and walked off the green with a triple-bogey seven. He also bogeyed the 11th and the four-putted the 12th before hitting his tee shot at the 13th into the creek. “This was my first experience of it,” he said afterwards. “Hopefully, next time I’m in this position, I’ll be able to handle it a little better.”

2010 Open Championship 

Playing like a god, McIlroy began with a 63 on the Old Course. But the wind got up on the second day and his hopes were blown away in a disastrous round of 80. To his credit, he managed to finished the week in third place but his inability to adapt to the conditions on day two cost him dearly.

2013 Honda Classic

Struggling with his form after changing his equipment, McIlroy withdrew from the Honda Classic, where he was defending champion, citing toothache as the reason. It won him few friends.

2019 Open Championship 

The Open returned to Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland and all the talk in the build-up to the tournament was about how McIlroy was destined to win on a course where he had spent so much time as a youngster. The expectation was huge. It lasted precisely one hole. McIlroy hit his opening tee shot into a bush and walked off with a quadruple-bogey eight. It was the stuff of nightmares. And it went from bad to worse as he recorded a 79. "At the end of the day I'm still the same person," said McIlroy afterwards. "I'm going to go back and see my family, see my friends, and hopefully they don't think any less of me after a performance like that.” To his eternal credit, he shot a 65 in the second round but missed the cut by a shot.

2010 PGA Championship

McIlroy missed out on a chance to win his first major when he three-putted the 15th green to fall out of a tie for the lead. His final-hole birdie putt narrowly missed the hole to leave him one stroke out of the playoff between Bubba Watson and eventual winner Martin Kaymer.

2010 - ’The Ryder Cup is Just an Exhibition’

Ahead of making his Ryder Cup debut, McIlroy announced that he couldn’t understand what the fuss was all about, describing the event as an exhibition. To be fair to him, after playing in the event for first time he changed his mind.

2014 Abu Dhabi Championship

McIlroy was hit with a two-shot penalty for not taking proper and full relief after driving onto a spectator pathway in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, his first event of the season. He was alerted to his mistake by Scottish caddie Dave Renwick after his round and, after signing for a 70 instead of a 68 to reflect the penalty, he told reporters: "There are many stupid rules in golf and this is one of them." The two-shot penalty ultimately cost him dearly, as he lost the tournament by a single shot.

2015 Open Championship

He had to withdraw from The Open at St Andrews after suffering an ankle injury while playing football with his friends. It was a bitter disappointment for a man who was defending champion.

10 of the Best...

2009 Dubai Desert Classic

His first professional win came at age 19 when he won the Dubai Desert Classic and climbed to 16th in the world rankings.

2011 US Open

McIlroy proved there were no long-lasting ill-effects from his collapse at The Masters by winning the US Open at Congressional by an incredible eight shots. McIlroy set several records, most notably, his 72-hole aggregate score of 268 (16-under) was a new US Open record. His 268 aggregate beat the previous record of 272 held by Jack Nicklaus, Lee Janzen, Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk. His 16-under-par was also four better than Woods managed at Pebble Beach in 2000. And he became the youngest winner since Bobby Jones in 1923.

2010 Quail Hollow Championship

He barely made the cut at Quail Hollow but played some sensational golf over the weekend, shooting a 66 and closing out with a course record 62 to beat Phil Mickelson by four shots. In the process, he became the first player since Tiger Woods to triumph on the PGA Tour prior to his 21st birthday. 

2012 Honda Classic

His victory in the Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens saw him reach the top of the world rankings for the first time. He shot rounds of 66, 67, 66 and 69 to beat a field that included Tiger Woods. He beat Woods by two strokes to become the second youngest world No1 behind the great man.

2012 US PGA Championship

McIlroy began the final round at Kiawah Island with a three-shot lead and fired a superb 66 to win his second major by a record eight strokes. It was a record that had stood since Nicklaus won the tournament by seven in 1980. His victory at 22 years old made him the youngest multiple major champion since Seve Ballesteros won the 1980 Masters. McIlroy's win also regained him the world No1 ranking.

2014 Open Championship

McIlroy had always said that The Open was the major he was least likely to win because he plays with a high ball flight and does not enjoy windy conditions. But he defied all expectations at Royal Liverpool by defeating Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia by two shots. It meant he just needed to win The Masters to complete the career Grand Slam. His father, Gerry, also collected a huge payout on a bet he had made years earlier that his son would win The Open by the time he was 25.

2014 PGA Championship

A week after winning his first WGC event at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, McIlroy beat Phil Mickelson to collect his fourth major at Valhalla in Louisville. After the victory Jack Nicklaus said: "Rory is an unbelievable talent. He has an opportunity to win 15 or 20 majors or whatever he wants to do if he wants to keep playing. I love his swing.” He hasn’t won another major since.

2021 CJ Cup

McIlroy won the CJ Cup in Las Vegas by one stroke. He overcame a nine-shot deficit prior to beginning the final two rounds, but a 62–66 on the last two days saw him win by one over Open champion Collin Morikawa, It was his 20th PGA Tour victory, gaining him life membership. He became only the sixth player to reach 20 wins on the tour before their 33rd birthday.

2019 FedEx Cup

On August 25, 2019, McIlroy secured the FedEx Cup for the second time by winning the Tour Championship at East Lake. The winning payout was $15 million, the largest in golf history. He became only the second player to win multiple FedEx Cups. Following his FedEx Cup victory, McIlroy was named the 2018-19 PGA Tour Player of the Year. It was the third time in his career he had won the Jack Nicklaus Award.

2019 Players Championship

McIlroy won the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass with a score of 16 under par, becoming just the second British winner of the tournament after Sandy Lyle in 1987. With the win, he joined Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods as the only players to win four majors and 15 PGA Tour titles before the age of 30.

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