Rodger: Rory McIlroy, the golden boy of golf, is back at No. It feels like there is some order in the golf world.

Oct, 2022

October has been quite wet in some places, such as Scotland and Rory McIlroy’s home of Northern Ireland. It was a bit like being awakened in a dank Dickensian prison by pulling open the curtains every morning. Even the torrential rains that have been falling are starting to rust the edges of the curtains. This column almost had to be etched in papier mache because of the general level of moisture.

It would be nice to have a little more lift in our spirits. The world of golf is a great way to transport yourself to a distant place where the sky’s blue and the sun shines.

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It was a refreshing moment to switch on the TV Sunday to see McIlroy return to the summit in shining South Carolina. It felt like a return of normality.

Let’s face the facts, the past few months at the top of professional men’s golf have been so turbulent, you could half expect the ongoing drama involving LIV and established tours to make it on the local news.

It’s almost like looking at a port through a storm, but McIlroy is back as the world’s No.1. It’s a comforting sight. Although I am sure Greg Norman, LIV supremo, doesn’t believe that, here you go. McIlroy has stood up for the traditional golf powers, despite the chaos and recrimination of the civil war. His return to his rightful position has strengthened his statemanlike status.

Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland, watches as Rory McIlroy takes part in the BMW PGA Championship Pro-Am at Wentworth Golf Club, September 7, 2022 in Virginia Water, England. (Photo by Oisin Kenney/Getty Images).

McIlroy has had a busy year. The 33-year old offered some insight into his transformation after his successful defense of CJ Cup. Our healthy-eating gurus always insist that you are what your eat.

McIlroy’s story was one of what McIlroy didn’t eat following a miss cut at the Valero Texas open back in March.

McIlroy stated that he had missed the cut and couldn’t leave town that night because of this. “The hotel was packed and they told me that it would take two-and-a half hours to get room service. I had missed the cut and went to bed hungry. It’s been a wild six months.” It’s been an amazing six months.

It has. McIlroy, who had gone to bed in San Antonio without a meal, prepared an eye-watering feast for his next outing. He finished with a stunning 64 at Augusta to take second place in The Masters. He has been a reborn golfer since then. The four-time major winner has won three times and been ranked in the top 10 at nine events. It has been an impressively consistent run.

While critics may mutter that he hasn’t ended the major championship drought since 2014, I believe he is close. It’s impossible to predict which player will win in this unpredictable, topsy-turvy sport. They’ll probably not win this, they won’t contend at that, and possibly they’ll make a hash of the other.

Rory McIlroy reacts after he misses a putt on the 17th Green during the third round in the CJ Cup, South Carolina. (Photo by David Yeazell – USA TODAY Sports

McIlroy is looking great in this new surge of form. McIlroy’s contentment off the course with the birth in 2020 of his daughter was not mirrored on the course. The weighty burden of trying again to find his former majesty left him feeling drained at half-mast.

McIlroy is energized as 2022 draws to a close.

This fascinating, frustrating, frustrating, and sometimes rewarding pursuit is never ending. McIlroy will continue to work in an never-ending pursuit of improvement.

He said that he never felt like he had figured out the game, echoing sentiments shared by golfers around the world. “I don’t believe I will ever figure it out, but I try every day to get closer.”

McIlroy’s transformation from Texas to McIlroy shows that every cloud has its silver lining. If only those clouds would stop leaking.

Nick Rodger is a columnist at The Herald in Scotland which is part of Gannett’s USA Today Network.

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