McIlroy, the Player….(s Champion)

In the twelve years that have been his professional career to date, Rory McIlroy has made quite the name for himself with 24 total wins, 15 of which have come on the PGA Tour, four majors, a total career earnings of $45,514,482, and a surplus of media sponsorship deals and attention. And yet, despite what can be categorized as an established career on tour, Rory’s win this weekend at TPC Sawgrass has been widely considered as a little, rebellious “fuck you” from Rory to the not-so-quiet whispers coming from the golf media world surrounding his recent “struggles” to find the winner’s circle.

I’ll admit, my initial gut reaction was that Rory shut up critics by winning this tournament in style, but reviewing the tape and stats reminded me otherwise. And I mean, that’s not to say anything against Rory. My point simply is, he doesn’t always have to play his best to compete on the PGA Tour. He just needs to play consistently good golf, something I believe he has done a rather good job of over his career and received not enough credit for. Just think about it.

Except for that ballsy last approach shot over the flagstick on 18, Rory’s success this weekend can once again be chalked up to a consistency that has seen him atop leaderboards time and time again throughout his career and every weekend so far this year. Once again, we saw the clutch, yet comfortable-in-his-skin game that we’ve come expect from Rory when he’s protecting a lead.

Just look at the scores for Round 4 below. What happened really was this: Rory kicked ass on Thursday and Friday, which allowed him to round out the weekend conservatively. In doing so, he put himself in a position where shooting -2 on Sunday, a day where people shot -3, -4, -5, shit, even six under par, was enough to secure the win.

Players final day

For me, besides the awesomely entertaining tournament we got as fans overall this weekend, this win speaks to something much greater. Rory’s win came alongside personal realizations that sometimes golf media gets caught up in their stupid little talking points instead of respecting a competitive sport from the sidelines. Whether that’s because of clickbait/viral social media culture that has come to surround all sports media, I don’t know…

But the way golf media talks about Rory not winning more than how consistent he is pisses me off

Maybe Alex Myers, senior writer at Golf Digest, said it best in the introduction of his Players recap article.

“Had just about any other golfer on the planet ripped off five consecutive top-six finishes on the PGA Tour to start the year, the golf media might consider handing out a special award. But Rory McIlroy received more attention for not winning than for playing consistently great golf these past couple months. Perhaps, that’s unfair, but such are the lofty expectations for a man who won his fourth major championship by the time he was 25.”

Everybody read the career winning amount way up there in the first paragraph right?

$45,514,482. Past that amount simply being a war chest of cash showing how much success Rory has truly had, it also serves as a testament to Rory being one of the most consistent golfers in the modern era.

Ben Everill from PGATOUR.COM made a great point too, in a recent article’s first of five observations. I include this because I feel it does well to address where criticisms of Rory come from.

“1. Rory McIlroy is stronger than a lot of people want to admit sometimes.

Now look, we are not ignoring the fact that in the last nine times McIlroy has played in a final group in the last round of a tournament he has failed to win. This is a fair narrative for golf pundits to highlight. And it will remain a while longer given McIlroy was not in the final group on Sunday at TPC Sawgrass. But what Sunday’s one-shot win did prove is McIlroy can handle the heat. Not just the heat of an incredible number of challengers that emerged on a wild Sunday, but also the heat of the spoken and written word engulfing the now 15-time PGA TOUR winner over the last 12 months since his previous win at the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. McIlroy has an incredible resume. Amongst it are THE PLAYERS trophy, a FedExCup, an Open Championship, a U.S. Open, two PGA Championships and two World Golf Championships – all before he’s 30. However you slice it, it is impressive. Could he have won more? Sure. But you can say that about almost every golfer out here.”

And that’s exactly it. “Could he have won more? Sure.” And that’s inarguably the case. But even so, Rory has still won more than most of the field. “But you can say that about almost every golfer out here.” Absolutely yes, and it’s exactly this that annoys me so when it comes to these criticisms of Rory. They’re abnormal, inhuman, and not evenly applied to the rest of the world’s greatest players.

It’s not his fault everybody made him out to be Tiger 2.0… as if that would be fair to anybody but Primetime Tiger himself. I mean seriously though. Is that just the nature of the beast when you’re always at the top and just not punching the big ticket? I find that stupid; who wouldn’t rather have that kind of success, also seen with others such as DJ and Fleetwood, as opposed to falling out of the spotlight completely. *Ahem* Jordan *ahem*….. I digress, and still love you, Jordan, but seriously. Please come back to us.

Regardless, the point stands. Give the man his respect where it is due and look at the stats.

First, a quick snapshot of Rory’s 2019 so far:

Rory 2019

Are you kidding me? He has barely placed outside of the top five this year.

Next, let’s look at the career snapshot found on Rory’s PGA Tour profile:

Rory Career Snapshot

  • 135 cuts made out of 156 career events played. That’s nuts.
  • Wins every year of the last four seasons, except for 2017, where he still had six top-10 and eight top-25 finishes and made 12 of 14 cuts.

I’m not saying Rory couldn’t be more clutch, but come on folks. Put some respect on his name. He has blown more opportunities to win in the final pairing than most players in the field will ever find themselves competing to make the top-25.

Simply put, being in the position to blow so many chances to win screams greatness on its own. Where would you prefer to fall short if you’re not failing amongst the best?