Honda Classic 2012 Results: Pressure on Rory McIlroy To Earn World No. 1 Ranking

Scott Semmler@@ScottSemmler22Analyst IIMarch 3, 2012

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - MARCH 03:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on after his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the Honda Classic at PGA National on March 3, 2012 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy is in control at the Honda Classic in Florida, with a two-stroke lead heading into the final round. But how he fairs on Sunday will tell us a lot about how he handles real-time pressure of golf stardom.

McIlroy will have two sets of pressures on Sunday when he tees it up on the first tee: The pressure of winning on the PGA Tour with Tiger Woods in the field, and the pressure of claiming the No. 1 world golf ranking.

Final rounds have not been his friend, most recently in the 2011 Masters when he gave up the lead and the green jacket. This seems to be a different, more mature version of McIlroy. His game is seasoned and he is ready to become the world's No. 1 golfer.

It was an inevitable feat for McIlroy, but now that it is in his grasps there is something that still needs to be proven to the golf world.

Winning Sunday and claiming the top spot in the world golf rankings would prove just that.

He would win a tournament with a legitimate version of Woods in the field and he would do it with the No. 1 ranking on the line.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

However, the pressure is still on his shoulders. People expect him to become that world No. 1, as do they expect him to win tomorrow's tournament without a well-known player within four strokes of his score.

Anything less would put McIlroy back where we saw him at the 2011 Masters.

With a two-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Honda Classic and that No. 1 ranking in his sights, McIlroy will have a little cushion and motivation behind him to win just another tournament on the PGA Tour.

He will do it with Woods in the field watching and the golf world watching him being recognized as the best golfer in the world, and that could not get any sweeter for him.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.