December 27 2013
With the PGA TOUR set to resume its 2013-14 season the first week of January, PGATOUR.COM is previewing the top 30 players to watch heading into the new year. We'll count down one a day in December until we unveil our No. 1 player to watch on Dec. 30, the Monday of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions.
Check out this preview of No. 4 Rory McIlroy and join the discussion below on how you think he'll perform in 2014. Click here for more on the top 30 players to watch in 2014.
NO. 4 PLAYER TO WATCH: RORY MCILROY
2014 OUTLOOK: Rory McIlroy likely will be glad to put 2013 behind him and focus on the new year. Seems like everything from his management team to his love life was under scrutiny and the attention only intensified as he went winless on both sides of the Atlantic for the first time since his 2009 debut campaign. The 24-year-old is resilient, though, and he has abundant talent. McIlroy already counts two majors among his six PGA TOUR victories. Closing out his European Tour season with three straight top-10s should also be a confidence-booster. And 2013 wasn't a total washout -- McIlroy finished second at the Valero Texas Open and tied for eighth at both THE PLAYERS and the PGA. Expect more focus on major preparation this year and of course, the drive to make the European Ryder Cup team. -- Helen Ross
THUS FAR THIS SEASON: McIlroy played in the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions and tied for sixth. He also closed out his 2013 European Tour season two weeks later with a tie for fifth at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, then won the Australian Open.
Despite five top-10s in 16 starts, success is relative, not only in his world but ours. His growing pains outside the ropes will eventually end. Worth the plunge in salary formats that reset him to no higher than $3.25 million. -- Rob Bolton
|ON THE MARK
When Rory is on-song he is a virtuoso. Very long off the tee and an incredible iron player, McIlroy can dismantle a course and a field whenever he gets the inclination. I feel like one of his strengths, however, is also a weakness. McIlroy has a tremendous outlook on life and he is able to enjoy a life away from golf and the trappings of his success as much as anyone else. This is both helpful and harmful but now that he seems to have streamlined everything off the course I believe we will see him at full flight more often. -- Mark Immelman
Expect a huge bounce-back year out of McIlroy. I am guessing Rory front-loads his schedule so he is much sharper going into Augusta this season. I used to think he was not a good wind player but his performance at Kiawah Island Ocean Course in the 2012 PGA Championship blew away that theory. But he is best on long courses with undulating greens. Rory is going to win a Masters someday and it might be this year. Augusta National fits him perfectly. -- Fred Albers
|INSIDE THE NUMBERS
McIlroy’s driving and iron play have never been spectacular by TOUR standards. But his short game took a nose dive in 2013. In scrambling, McIlroy dropped from a conversion rate of 60.24 percent in ‘12 to 54.68 percent in ‘13, sinking from 33rd to 145th over one season. He also struggled in sand-save percentage, freefalling from 56.16 percent (22nd) to 43.33 percent (158th). -- Bill Cooney