Rory McIlroy is the No. 1 golfer in the world.
There is little doubt about his status after he won four PGA tournaments during the 2012 season, including his second major.
He was the leading money winner on the tour with more than $8 million in earnings. Tiger Woods, who ruled the golf world for more than a decade, was second in earnings with just over $6.1 million.
However, Woods knows that he is trying to chase down a young and talented star who is just approaching his prime.
It may not be impossible for Woods to recapture the No. 1 position, but it will be difficult.
McIlroy, 23, is not going to slow down. He is a great golfer who is getting better.
He won the U.S. Open in 2011 and the PGA title in 2012. He's got half of the four major titles.
He'll get the other two in 2013 and complete his first "career slam" before the end of the season.
He will get the Masters. You may remember that in 2011, McIlroy was just starting to dominate the golf world. When he got to Augusta in early April, his game was in excellent shape.
He had taken a couple of weeks off before the Masters and he came out of the game on fire. He shot a 65 in the first round, followed with a 69 in the second round and shot a 70 in the third round. He was dominating the Masters.
McIlroy had a four-shot lead heading into the final round. Then he fell apart. Instead of taking the green jacket, he shot a mind-blowing 80 on Sunday and gave the tournament away. He finished in a tie for 15th.
If McIlroy was an average or even a good golfer, having that kind of opportunity and blowing it would have sent him into a tailspin. He might have been ruined by such a defeat.
But McIlroy is not average, good or even very good. He is an elite player who has a chance to become one of the game's giants. Just two months after his Masters meltdown, McIlroy dominated the U.S. Open and won his first major.
McIlroy shot a 16-under par 268 to take the biggest title on North American soil. That record performance at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland gave him an eight-stroke victory.
Coming off a painful defeat, McIlroy showed his championship character.
In 2012, McIlroy fired a 13-under 275 at Kiawah Island in South Carolina at the PGA Championship to win the Wanamaker Trophy.
McIlroy clearly has the 2013 Masters in his sights. He was close to the green jacket in 2011 and he knows his time is at hand.
After he gets that, it will be time to start preparing for the 2013 British Open.
That's the championship that will mean the most to Northern Ireland's brightest golfing star.
The Open Championship will be held at famed Muirfield in Scotland. Nearly everyone there will want to see golf's greatest star earn the title, particularly if he has been successful in his pursuit of the green jacket.
As long as he is healthy and focused, there should be no stopping him.
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