Rory McIlroy: 5 Improvements Needed to Dominate the Golf World for Next 20 Years

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 18, 2012

Rory McIlroy: 5 Improvements Needed to Dominate the Golf World for Next 20 Years

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    He is unquestionably the best player in the world right now.

    Rory McIlroy has a sensational swing and the overall game to dominate the world of golf for many years.

    However, it's one thing to look good for a couple of years and it's quite another to become an all-time great player like Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer or Tiger Woods.

    Physical talent is a given for the 23-year-old McIlroy. He's got bucket loads of ability.

    Mental strength, tenacity and desire are not easily measured. If McIlroy has enough of those factors, he will be able to remain on top for years—possibly 20—as the rest of the golf world tries to catch him.

    It's not just a matter of maintaining what he has now. He will have to improve if he is going to be the king of his sport.

Major Championships

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    Rory McIlroy has won two major championships.

    He picked up his first when he won the 2011 U.S. Open in overwhelming fashion and he added the PGA championship in 2012.

    If McIlroy is going to dominate the world of golf, he is going to have to pick up a green jacket and win the Masters. He is also going to have to get a British Open championship.

    The latter is the title that obviously means the most to this Northern Ireland native. He will feel incredible pressure if he takes a one-stroke lead into the final round of The Open championship. He will have to step up and perform. 

    Once he gets the full complement of all four grand slam titles, McIlroy will belong to a very elite group of golfers that includes Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Gary Player, Gene Sarazen and Ben Hogan.

Maturity

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    McIlroy has the ability to dominate any tournament he competes in.

    With his talent and all-around game, he appears to be the best player any time he steps onto the course.

    However, it's not just a matter of rolling out of bed and hitting the first tee box.

    Even the greatest players in the world have to prepare a game plan and execute it. That requires a lot of time practicing and perfecting his skills.

    With so many demands on his time and an opportunity for a thrilling life away from the golf course with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, McIlroy will need the maturity to stay on task if he wants to reach his goals.

Consistency

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    McIlroy was the No. 1 money winner on the PGA tour in 2012. He won more than $8 million in golf earnings, nearly $2 million more than No. 2 finisher Tiger Woods.

    McIlroy is not going to finish as the No. 1 earner for 20 consecutive seasons. Nobody has ever played to that level.

    However, if McIlroy is going to dominate golf for two decades, he can't have poor seasons. He may not be No. 1 every year, but he is going to have to remain in the top 20.

    He can't slip to No. 75 or fall out of the top 100. His worst years still have to be great by normal golf standards if he is going to remain at the top of the golf world.

Finishing Ability

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    The 2011 Masters.

    This may prove to be the turning point of McIlroy's career. He had a four-stroke lead going into the final round and he appeared to have an easy path to his first Masters.

    However, McIlroy shot an 80 and ended up tied for 15th.

    He certainly has responded well since then. Some golfers would have folded up after such a debacle, but McIlroy has asserted himself.

    But if you look at his 2012 golf stats, McIlroy averaged 69.63 per round—the best on the PGA tour. However, he ranked 11th in final round scoring with an average of 69.83 per round.

    That's not bad by any stretch, but you want your final round scoring to rank higher if you are going to dominate professional golf for the next two decades.

Putting

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    McIlroy certainly can make clutch putts.

    He wouldn't be the No. 1 golfer in the world if he could not putt extremely well.

    However, McIlroy does not appear to have the expertise with his putter that he does with the rest of his clubs.

    The putting stats bear this out. McIlroy ranked 71st on the tour on putts of five-to-10 feet and 59th on putts of 10-to-15 feet.

    His best showing came on putts of 15-to-25 feet as he ranked 22nd in that category. However, on putts of more than 25 feet, McIlroy ranked 191st.

    With just a little bit of improvement on the green, McIlroy will be the best on the tour for years to come.