He has firmly established himself on the European and PGA Tours with a tournament win on each. The former Amateur world No. 1 features in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Rankings and has represented Europe in the Ryder Cup. It would take a brave man to claim Rory McIlroy doesn't have a bright future in the sport.
McIlroy exploded onto the scene of World Golf at the tender age of 17, finishing T42 (and Low Amateur) at the 2007 Open Championship. Since then, wins at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 and the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010 have seen his stock rise even further, culminating in a career high ranking of seventh in the World.
McIlroy's record in Major Championships isn't exactly in bad shape either, with T3 finishes in The Open Championship and the PGA Championship. Many see it as only a matter of time until he wins his maiden Major, and what better place to do so that Augusta?
It's always helpful to analyse past performance on the course when a Major comes around, and this won't make pleasant reading. McIlroy has failed to make the cut twice in two attempts. Also McIlroy is, if anything, a streaky golfer. He is perfectly capable of the brilliant one week, then can disappear off the radar completely.
Furthermore, McIlroy seems to have serious problems closing out a tournament. While this is no doubt related to his age and inexperience, it still doesn't bode well for a title challenge in what is second only to the Ryder Cup when it comes to pressure, coverage and prestige.
McIlroy's win at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 is a prime example of his inability to close out tournaments with ease. From leading by four shots on the 15th tee, three straight bogeys left him requiring a par on 18. He got his par and his first professional win, but he didn't make it easy for himself.
Even his impressive win at Quail Hollow can't particularly prove his nerve, his course record 62 came from so far back in the field that there wasn't really any pressure for him to buckle under. Nobody expected McIlroy to win, perhaps that's when he performs best.
Due to this, McIlroy is still in with a decent shot. Certainly a lot of people will put their money behind him and if he manages to be roughly in contention come Championship Sunday, then who's to say he couldn't make an astounding charge to the title?
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