Imagine Golf Blogs

McIlroy in Double Heaven

Dermot Gilleece is excited about the Irishman's prospects as he dominates tour golf

Posted Nov 13, 2012 by Dermot Gilleece


Thankfully there are degrees of brilliance, otherwise it might be difficult to separate Rory McIlroy’s money-list double from similar achievements of recent decades.  The fact is that what he did in far-off Singapore, is probably unmatched in the history of European golf.

For a start, he has completed the double at an age five months younger than Tiger Woods was, when doing it in 1999.  That was when Woods captured the PGA Championship and NEC Firestone Invitational which counted on both sides of the Atlantic, while winning the Deutsche Bank Open on the European Tour.

Here, we distinguish between Europe’s leading money winners and recipients of the Vardon Trophy, which goes to the top player in the Race to Dubai.  Woods, in fact, led Europe’s money list on six occasions - 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2007 - but couldn’t claim the Vardon Trophy as a non-member of the tour.

As a consequence, Colin Montgomerie is credited with eight Order of Merit titles rather than six, while other Vardon Trophy winners to benefit from the Woods factor were Lee Westwood (2000), Retief Goosen (2002), Padraig Harrington (2006) and Justin Rose (2007).  Such dominance by Woods and more recent double-winners, became possible because of seven events - the four Majors and three World Golf Championships - being common to both tours.

Apart from being the youngest to do the double, McIlroy gained a coveted distinction with remarkable ease.  From early October with six PGA Tour events still to be played, it was clear that nobody was going to catch him on the American money list, and by finishing third in Singapore, he placed himself beyond his nearest challengers on the Race to Dubai, two weeks before the European Tour finale actually takes place.

All of which speaks volumes for the manner in which he has managed his time, despite recent criticisms regarding his absence from the HSBC Championship in China.  And one suspects that some of the credit could be attributed to no less a figure in the game than Jack Nicklaus, who has become something of a mentor since the 23-year-old decided to base himself at The Bear’s Club in West Palm Beach.

At the peak of his powers in the 1960s and ‘70s, Nicklaus played an average of only about 18 tournaments a year.  Ben Hogan, of course, famously played only six in 1953 when he won five of them, including the Masters, US Open and British Open.  As it happened, the Bear led the US money list on six occasions in successive decades - 1964, ’65, 1971, ’72, ’73 and ’75. And when McIlroy gets his 2013 season under way in Abu Dhabi in January and goes on to play the Accenture Matchplay in Tucson on February 20th to 24th, he will be aiming at a schedule of no more than 23 events.   

“Though people could suggest that I shouldn’t be placing such limits on myself at my age, I believe too much competitive golf simply isn’t good for you,” he said.  “That’s where Tiger Woods is very smart, bringing the same level of intensity to 20 tournaments a year.  It’s what he does. And I’d rather be 100 per cent ready 20 times a year, than say fully prepared for 20 and still playing an extra 10.  It doesn’t make sense when you don’t have the right mind-set.”  

He went on: “Just getting to know Jack a little bit has also been hugely beneficial. There’s a lot of great young players like Dustin Johnson at The Bear’s Club and I know Jack’s had chats with them.  And I know he’s also talked with Keegan (Bradley).  It’s great just to see him around and have a casual lunch with him and not even talk about golf.  Just talk about normal stuff; what’s going on in the world.”  

One of the more remarkable aspects of a remarkable player is the manner in which he learns from disappointments.  He did it memorably in 2011 when bouncing back from a Masters meltdown to capture the US Open in record style at Congressional two months later.  Now, the set-backs of being runner-up to Westwood for the Vardon Trophy of 2009 and again to Donald last year, have also been firmly consigned to the past.

When Woods captured the US Open by the stunning margin of 15 strokes back in 2000, I remember marvelling at the amazing new era of golf we had entered.  Twelve years on, McIlroy is giving me the same feeling.

- Dermot Gilleece

Why Join Us?

We combine great social networking and excellent content, all in one place!

  • Interests

    Choose the interests you want to follow
  • Community

    Connect with friends and other sports fans
  • Content

    News, Views, Equipment Reviews, Contests & Deals
Join Now

Are you a golf professional?