Major Champion At 24 years old, Rory McIlroy has experienced more than most do in a lifetime. He has won two major championships by record setting margins.
Earlier this year, he signed a huge contract with Nike. But, 2013 was a year to forget for the popular kid from Northern Ireland. He did not win a tournament until late in the year when he went down under to beat Adam Scott at the Australian Open.
Through it all, McIlroy handled the adversity pretty well other than an abrupt withdrawl at the Honda Classic when an inflamed wisdom tooth outweighed another poor round of ball striking. As defending champion of the PGA Championship, he was stellar. It started in March when he showed up at PGA HQ to receive the 2012 PGA of America Player of the Year and Vardon Trophy awards.
He arrived at the PGA Championship Media Day in June in the early morning hours after the Memorial Tournament. McIlroy spent the day playing with Craig Harmon, the Oak Hill pro, and me. It was his first look at the venue he would defend on. He was a star at the afternoon press conference and later spent time in downtown Rochester at the PGA Championship display. His dad, Jerry, was at his side. The interaction between father and son was impressive.
In August, Rory hosted the Champions Dinner attended by a record number of former PGA Championship winners. That was a personal testimony to McIlroy. In a sour year of golf, his disposition was anything but that. He was dignified, humble and handled himself with class. Don’t forget this guy is only 24 years old and his best days are ahead. The 2014 Comeback Player of the Year? Rory McIlroy.
The Mickelson Family
It was another tough U.S. Open in 2013 for Phil Mickelson. His sixth runner-up in the national championship came at Merion GC in Philadelphia. One more blown opportunity for Lefty. It looked like this could his final chance to win a major.