Rory McIlroy primed to start new decade with a bang
Updated: Feb 23, 2020
Look for Rory McIlroy to win at least one major championship this year. Hopefully it’ll be the Masters so he can join the Grand Slam club.
McIlroy, who makes his 2020 debut in this week's Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, is coming off a four-win 2019 season that hints at great things this year. More importantly, the improvements he made in his game that led to those wins point to a first major victory since the 2014 PGA Championship. One improvement more than any other: Rory putted better last year than any other year in his career, as he revealed before the DP World Tour Championship, Dubai, his final event of 2019.
“At the start of the year I wanted to be plus .25 strokes gained putting for the year,” McIlroy said. “I nearly doubled that. I was nearly .5 strokes (.425) gained putting for the year, which is a massive improvement.”
Rory ranked second on the PGA Tour in putting average, taking 1.701 putts per green in regulation. He was number one in that category on the European Tour, averaging 1.68 putts.
“I had my best putting year ever this year. This year (2019) I finished in the top‑25 (24th.) So if I can continue to be in the top‑25 putters on Tour going forward, that's a huge thing for me.”
We shouldn't read too much into this week at Torrey Pines since he'll inevitably be shaking off some rust. The Masters wil be the litmus test. Rory fans remember only too well his missed four-foot eagle putt on Augusta National’s second hole in the final round in 2018 that probably cost him his first green jacket. It felt more like a bogey than a birdie. It wasn’t the only missed putt he had that day. He bogeyed the third and fifth holes. By the time he finished the 14th hole he’d missed seven putts inside 10 feet, four of them inside six. No wonder he shot 74.
Oh, how Rory must wish now he was putting then as did last year. That’s why he should be excited to get to Augusta National in April. He’s a 9-1 shot with British bookmakers William Hill to don the green jacket, second favourite to Brooks Koepka at 8-1. Defending champion Tiger Woods is 10-1.
If Rory can carry his 2019 putting form into this season, then the major win that’s eluded him since 2014 should be within his grasp.
Roll on The Masters.