If Rory McIlroy were to retire tomorrow, he would easily go down as one of the modern greats of the game. The current world number one has four Majors to his name, after all, as well as a raft of other tournament victories and other accolades.
Still, the Major drought seems to hang over the Northern Irishman. It’s been almost nine years – well over 3,000 days – since we have seen McIlroy crowned as a Major champion, all the way back to August 2014 when he won the PGA Championship for a second time.
Back then, many were predicting that McIlroy would go on to win at least ten Majors: Not quite Tiger Woods’ level of dominance, but enough to say he was one of the all-time greats. As we know, it hasn’t quite panned out that way. McIlroy has won everything else since then, and he has spent periods as world number one. But there was always something missing at the Majors. Even in those where he challenged – he has had eight top 5 finishes in Major since 2014 – he has rarely looked like he was capable of winning.
McIlroy is backed to win Majors in 2023
So, could things be different in 2023? As mentioned, he is now the world number one. That in itself should give his fans confidence. Moreover, we can see from the golf betting odds from Major sportsbooks that he leads the betting markets for the next Major, the 2023 Masters. But as we said earlier before, he has spent time at the top before – as recently as 2020, but he has had fruitless tilts at the Majors. And yet, there feels something different about McIlroy this time around.
To explain, we need to look at the man’s character. Many golfers can live in their own head, and many more still can see their game go off the boil inexplicably, but McIlroy, perhaps more than any other modern golfer, has had to ‘beat’ himself before even considering what to do about the rest of the field. When he is ‘on it’, his game is scintillating. When his game is off, it can be painful for fans and neutrals to watch.
McIlroy looks comfortable as elder statesman
But there has been a shift. McIlroy feels more in tune with himself at the moment, like a man who is happy in his own skin. Dare we say it: He seems to be enjoying his role as the elder statesman (despite only being 33) in front of the media when defending the traditional golf world against the threat from the breakaway LIV Golf Tour. He seems comfortable defending golf’s traditions, and it seems to have given a sense of the bigger picture when he gets on the course.
Of course, none of this is to say he must win a Major in 2023. Just because he is backed by the sportsbooks does not give him any divine right to win. But if he goes through 2023 like he finished 2022, you’d be very happy backing him as he goes to Augusta in April or on to the other Majors in the summer. But for many of us who have watched Rory since he was a kid, there is an overriding sense that 2023 might be his year to hit the true summit again.