Augusta is looming with the first major golf tournament of the year to be played next month, between Thursday 11 and Sunday 14 April to be exact. And all hopes are resting on Rory McIlroy to finally win The Masters and complete the quadruple of Grand Slam titles. However, he’s not won a major championship since 2014 and there are two other golfers hot on his heels to manage the same feat this calendar year: Justin Spieth (yet to win the PGA Championship) and Phil Mickelson (hoping to win the US Open after six years of coming second). have already made the Northern Irishman one of the favourites to win The Masters, but can he do it?
An Elite Club
Only five players in PGA history have completed the prestigious career Grand Slam. Names in this exclusive club are Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen. Technically speaking, a Grand Slam is winning all four major competitions in a calendar year and while none of the above have managed that feat, Tiger Woods came closest with the ‘Tiger Slam’, which was all four majors in a 365-day period over two calendar years (2000 and 2001). That said, a career Grand Slam is still an admirable feat.
Five Years and Counting
It’s been five years since Rory McIlroy won a golf major – 2014 saw him victorious in both The Open and PGA Championship. He’s finished in the top-10 every year since then, peaking at fourth in the 2015 Masters. It’s also been a while since McIlroy was named world’s number 1 – three-and-a-half years, in fact. Since then, he’s dropped as low as 13th but currently ranks 6th in the world, behind the likes of Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose. McIlroy recently played at the Arnold Palmer Invitation in Florida, but was unable to defend his crown, finishing in a tie for sixth. But prior to the tournament, he he’s finally come to terms with the enormity of the task ahead:
“It’s definitely taken me time to come to terms with the things I’ve needed to deal with inside my own head and I think sometimes I’m too much of a fan of the game because I know exactly who has won the grand slam and exactly who I’d be putting myself alongside”.
“I’ve become a lot more comfortable with the fact that I’m going to fail more times than I succeed at that certain conquest or whatever you want to call it. I’ve tried four times and I’ve failed, but Abraham Lincoln lost the first 13 elections he was in and ended up being the President of the United States so I’ve still got a bit of time”.
Dustin Johnson 10/1 – Currently the world number 1, but yet to win The Masters (with his best finish coming in 2016, when he tied for fourth place). This year, Dustin Johnson has won the inaugural Saudi International and the WGC-Mexico Championship.
Justin Rose 12/1 – World number 2, Justin Rose’s best performance in The Masters came in 2015 and 2017, when he tied for second place; however, he’s only won one major championship and that was last year’s Open. This year, he has won the Farmers Insurance Open.
Justin Thomas 12/1 – Fourth in the PGA World rankings, American Justin Thomas won the PGS Championship in 2017, but has only played in the previous three Masters tournaments, with his best finish last year when he tied at 17th. 2017 was his breakthrough year, so it looks like the only way is up.