After a rough 2013 campaign, Rory McIlroy is back on track for the 2014 season, and after a big win at the 2014 British Open, the 25-year-old is set to have a strong finish for the year.
It was just the first win on the PGA Tour for McIlroy this year, but it was a big one. He started the tournament with two straight rounds of 66, leading the way the entire tournament. At one point, he even had a seven-stroke lead, but a final round of just 71 along with impressive outings from Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler got that lead down to just two strokes by the end of the The Open Championship.
The win on Sunday gave McIlroy his third career major, and according to Numbers Never Lie, he is the third-youngest player (following Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus) to win three majors.
Rory McIlroy is the 3rd-youngest player (behind Jack Nicklaus & Tiger Woods) in the Masters era to win his 3rd major.— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) July 21, 2014
With his first win of the year now under his belt, McIlroy is on track to potentially have the best season of his career.
McIlroy has been playing at a high level all year. In 11 events, he's finished in the top 25 every time and had seven top-10 finishes. He's been especially hot as of late, finishing in the top 10 in five of his last seven PGA Tour events, including finishing tied for eighth at the Masters back in April.
After winning The Open Championship, McIlroy explained that he's focused once again on golf, and that's likely a big reason for his recent success.
“I’ve really found my passion again for golf,” McIlroy told Karen Crouse of The New York Times. “Not that it ever dwindled, but it’s what I think about when I get up in the morning, it’s what I think about when I go to bed. I just want to be the best golfer I can be.”
The numbers have been promising for McIlroy all year. According to PGATour.com, he ranked third on the Tour in driving distance with 307.5 yards per drive, first with 4.53 birdies per round and second with an average score of 69.377.
Where will McIlroy finish in the FedExCup standings at the end of the season?
With over $3.6 million in earnings so far this year, McIlroy is possibly on pace to have the best season of his career. That's saying quite a lot considering he led the Tour with over $8 million in earnings in 2012, winning four events including the PGA Championship.
There are still plenty more opportunities for McIlroy to keep climbing up the FedExCup standings, as he's currently in just 11th (even after the major victory). There's also still one major remaining, the PGA Championship, and McIlroy will have the opportunity to finish in the top 10 of three majors in one season for the first time in his career.
McIlroy has actually had more success at the PGA Championship than any other major in his career, so another top-10 major finish this season is quite likely. In five appearances at the major, he's won once, finished tied for third on two occasions and most recently finished tied for eighth in 2013.
Overall, McIlroy is having a significantly better season than he had in 2013, and if he can keep it up, he's set to finish the year as one of the top players in both the FedExCup and money standings.