What a difference a year makes for McIlroy

Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:25pm EST
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By Tony Jimenez

LONDON (Reuters) - Only a special performer can live up to a seismic pre-season prediction and, when he is old and gray and sitting in his rocking chair, Rory McIlroy will look back at 2014 as the year he became a true golfing great.

The tousle-haired Northern Irishman also ruled the roost two years ago, winning five times around the world, but a change of equipment and off-course distractions in 2013 caused a slump in form that saw him slide to sixth in the rankings.

Twelve months ago serious questions were being asked about McIlroy's future but he responded like a champion, outplaying Adam Scott to end a year-long title drought at the Australian Open in December.

He then boasted about his plans for the season in an interview with the BBC in January.

"I won a major in 2011 and 2012 but not in 2013 so I'll try to make up for that with two this year," said McIlroy.

He was as good as his word, registering back-to-back major victories in the British Open and U.S. PGA Championship.

McIlroy also won the European Tour's flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio in August, and played an integral role in Europe's Ryder Cup victory in September.

His resurgence came about despite more dramas away from the course.   Continued...

World number one and defending champion Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts after finishing his fourth and final round of the Australian Open golf tournament at The Australian Golf Club in Sydney November 30, 2014.    REUTERS/David Gray