Rory McIlroy has come of age on the PGA Tour in 2012. Prior to this season, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, a professional golfer since 2007, had won twice on the PGA Tour in 38 events entered. He was considered one of the best golfers of the new generation, but lacked the consistency to finish at the top week after week.
When he won The Honda Classic, March 4th, he claimed the #1 world ranking for the first time. His next nine events, however, continued his pattern of inconsistent finishes, including: 3rd, 40th, 2nd, missed cut (twice in a row), 7th, missed cut, 60th, and 5th. This brought him to the 2012 PGA Championship, at Kiawah, in mid-August. Few would have predicted the results since:
PGA Championship: Finishing 13-under par, he ran away to an eight shot victory and claimed his second career major championship (having won the 2011 U.S. Open). He made this one look easy, reminiscent of some of the greatest performances in majors by Tiger Woods. As McIlroy's second PGA Tour victory of the season, the win solidified 2012 as his best year yet.
Deutsche Bank Championship: On Monday, September 3rd, Rory finished the Deutsche Bank Championship with a 20-under par total score of 264. His four rounds were quite low; 65, 65, 67 and 67; and very consistent. This was his second victory in three events (having finished 24th at The Barclays) and moved him into the #1 spot in the FedEx points standings. He also tied Tiger Woods with three Tour victories in the 2012 season, more than anyone else.
BMW Championship: At Crooked Stick, in Carmel, Indiana, McIlroy continued his consistent and superb play. He played the first two days paired together with Woods, posted scores of 8-under 64 and 4-under 68, and the two matched each other at 12-under par after 36 holes. Beginning the weekend one shot out of the lead, Rory McIlroy posted scores of 69 and 67. For the second week in a row he had finished 20 shots under par. More importantly, for the first time in his career, he had won two tournaments back to back.
With three wins in his last four events, cementing his position as #1 in the world golf rankings, it would seem Rory McIlroy has built an insurmountable lead in the race for the FedEx Cup. However, before the playing of the final event, the Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, the points will be reset. Rory will now have a total of 2,500 points, Woods (in second) will have 2,250, and at least the top five will all have a chance to win the Cup.
When the players come together again at East Lake, September 20-23, 2012, the top five in the points standings will include Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Nick Watney, Phil Mickelson, and Brandt Snedeker. McIlroy, deservedly so, is the current odds on favorite to be the PGA Tour Player of the Year for 2012, but there remains a little more work to be done.
Harold Andrews has played golf (competitively and recreationally) for nearly 30 years. He considers Jack Nicklaus the greatest of all time.