In his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday at the Summit Club in Las Vegas, Rory McIlroy was reminded that he was just one win away from 20 PGA Tour wins, but two years after lifetime membership that gave you that number after at least 15 years granted. Service on tour. After winning the CJ Cup at the Summit over Collin Morikawa on Sunday, all he has to do is wait.
McIlroy shot a 62 on Saturday before backing it up with a 66 on Sunday to finish under at 25 and beat Morikawa, who shot his own 62 in the final round and lost with a single blow. It was, as it is almost always with him, when he feels it, a show. Over the weekend, McIlroy hit 31 out of 36 greens in regulation and did almost everything he looked at. He led the field in driving and putting and was able to get away with a below-average performance with his iron game.
“It’s quite an accomplishment,” McIlroy told Golf Channel. “It’ll take me a few more years of touring to get this lifetime release, but at least I have the victories. I was asked that question earlier this week and it’s a pretty big carrot. I think it’s getting 20 wins here too Winning is a great achievement. I didn’t know if it would be this week, but I knew if I just kept my head down and kept playing well and doing the right things, I would be there someday. “
He also took out Morikawa and others – including Rickie Fowler and Keith Mitchell – mostly without using his greatest weapon. After knocking out at 33, McIlroy came home and hit his 3-blade and hybrid off the tee to win that tournament. On the par-5 14th hole, he hit 343 yards with his 3-wood, overtaking his playing partner Abraham Ancer by 21 yards and Fowler by a single yard, both of whom hit the driver from the tee. From there, McIlroy hit Iron just before the green and made the putt for Eagle to reach 25-under. It was both a knockout punch and a symbol of how the second nine ended up on his final round.
While it doesn’t get the same amount of attention as his Wells Fargo Championship win in May, it is important because it brings him 20 PGA Tour wins. At 32, McIlroy is one of the youngest of 39 players in history to hit that number.
We could go on and on with numbers related to McIlroy, but two nuggets stand out.
• McIlroy is 32 years old and has 20 PGA Tour wins and four majors. At the exact same age almost 20 years ago, Phil Mickelson – who I think is one of the top 10 golfers in the history of the game – had 21 PGA Tour wins and no majors.
• Jason Day (who is a year older than McIlroy) and Brooks Koepka (who is a year younger) – both former No. 1 players in the world – have a combined 20 PGA Tour wins and five majors.
It’s absolutely amazing that McIlroy made it with a legend a generation or two ahead of him, and at the same time with the combined careers of two of the 24 golfers who ever rose to number 1 in the world (and essentially the same Age).
Interestingly enough, McIlroy said that his emotions at the Ryder Cup last month, where he struggled for most of the week before winning from the leadership position on Sunday, benefited him a lot.
“It was huge,” said McIlroy. “It really was. I was really disappointed with the way I played. I get more emotional when I think about it than just think about it. There has been a lot of thought over the past few weeks. That’s what I have to do. Me must play “golf. I have to simplify it. I just have to be me I think in the last few months I might have tried to be someone else in order to get better and I realized that being myself is enough and I can do things like that. “
It has been enough for the past 13 years to get him into thin air twirling around names like Mickelson, Woods and Nicklaus. It will almost certainly last for the future, even in a sport that is probably deeper and harder to win than ever. McIlroy has done enough this week to take his first win of the new season, just as he has done 19 other times in more than a decade. Grade: A +
Here are the remaining grades for the CJ Cup at Summit.
Collin Morikawa (2nd): The Open Championship winner gave a valiant effort on Sunday trying to chase McIlroy with a 62 to complete the event at his hometown club, but he took an absolutely perfect lap and only shot one near-perfect. This is a tremendous recovery from a terrible FedEx Cup playoff run. Even though Morikawa has built up a lot of capital and doesn’t have much to prove, it’s still nice to see him take on the 2022 with all the form that started his career with “five wins in less than 60 tournaments” Year 2022. Note: A
Rickie Fowler (T3): Having finished in the top 10 only once in his last 37 events, Fowler had a great week in the desert before running out of gas. The performance profile of his performance can also be strengthened. We have sometimes in the past – with Fowler at the 2021 PGA Championship where he finished T8 – seen players catch fire with the putter for a week and land near the top of the board. However, it wasn’t. Fowler was actually one of the worst putters in the field for a week of finishing first in driving and first from tee to green. It was really amazing to see how effortlessly he hit it from the tee on Sunday. Hopefully it’s a sign that it will come in 2022. Grade: A +
Jordan Spieth (T18): It’s been a strange week for Spieth, who didn’t hit the ball particularly well, but was in the top 5 in this field when it comes to hits from the tee. Usually it comes to a trophy when Spieth is in the top 5 in a field off the tee.This is the best-measured driving week he has had since March 2018, but he got it because of lackluster ball strokes and in his last two laps he made it only three putts that were longer than two meters. Grade: B +