Before we get to Rory McIlroy, a quick look back at the historic goings-on yesterday at the home of golf.
Tyrrell Hatton made European Tour history, winning the Alfred Dunhill Links for the second straight year. That’s never been done. Paddy Harrington’s won it twice, but not back to back. Hatton was 24-under to be exact, beat Rory McIlroy by a whopping 20 shots, more on that later.
Lost in the Hatton victory was a Sunday 61 by Ross Fisher on the hallowed Old Course. Beat the standing course record of 62. Sadly, Ross was just off the 18th green with his tee shot, putted up to three feet then missed the putt for 60. Still shot 11-under and may be the only man who will ever say: “Sadly, I had to sign for 61.” Sadly, he beat Rory McIlroy on Sunday by 11 shots. More on that later.
Europe’s No. 1 in the Race To Dubai, Tommy Fleetwood, got in the history books last Friday with a course-record 63 at Carnoustie.
Fact is, when the wind is down, these wonderful links courses are defenseless to highly-skilled golfers.
Speaking of highly-skilled golfers, one Rory McIlroy, playing in his last event of 2017, finished four-under par and tied for 63rd, not looking highly-skilled, especially when it comes to links golf. Despite growing up in Northern Ireland, Rory and his game have become very Americanized.
Which brings us to Rory’s latest “thinking out loud” moment.
This past week, Rory talked about his goals:
“Obviously the Americans have sort of dominated the world of golf for the last 100 years, with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger, Walter Hagen and all those guys, but I think that the next goals on my radar are obviously the Grand Slam, try and get the Green Jacket, and then try and set my sights on becoming the best European ever.
“The Grand Slam is, that’s probably the next reasonable goal on the agenda,” he said. “And try to become the best European golfer ever. I’m trying to surpass Nick Faldo in that.”
McIlroy didn’t stop there however. He added this:
“If I had a career goal, it would probably be to be the best International golfer ever, you know, Gary Player has nine majors,” he said. “I’d like to think I’m going to give myself a chance to get close to that tally.”
Unfortunately, if Rory wants to be the best “European” ever, he needs to get his arms around “European” and when you throw out the “E” word, you certainly cannot do that without talking about the tour that itself is “European” and that is the European Tour.
Seve Ballesteros, regarded as the greatest on that tour, won 50 European Tour events, including THREE Open Championships, two Green Jackets.
Second best European wasn’t from Europe. Tiger Woods won 40 European Tour events, 14 majors.
Bernhard Langer won 40 times on the European Tour, Colin Montgomerie 31, Sir Nick Faldo 30.
Sir Nick’s six majors are the most by an Englishman/European.
For the official record, McIlroy has 13 European Tour wins. One Open Championship in his four majors.
Seems reasonable to be the best European ever, he’ll have to at least equal Seve and Sir Nick with those three Open Championships, the crown jewel of European Golf. With Rory’s record in links golf, including this past week in largely windless conditions, good luck. Rory managed a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill. Hatton beat him by 20. Rory did manage to beat three guys you’ve never heard of. He could only scrape up a 72 Sunday at St. Andrews on a day that yielded 61 by Fisher.
Rory’s immediate problem is his physical health. He appears okay but only he knows what’s up with that testy rib of his.
So yes, Rory will now take the rest of the year off from competition, no run at the Race to Dubai. Maybe he can re-think that “Best European” stuff and look back at Seve’s European career along with Faldo’s, Langer’s and Monty’s.
Rory’s biggest challenge will the Masters and his quest for the career Grand Slam.
He better start putting a whole lot better and learn to hit some decent wedge shots.
As far as his booming 350-yard plus drives? Yeah, you drive for show and he shows quite well, and has a lot of dough despite the lack of a reliable putting stroke.
Best European golfer ever?
Can he win 37 more European Tour events?
First winless season since 2008?
Rory’s thoughts on his T63 at the Dunhill Links?
“It summed up my whole of 2017. Not much happening,”
Well said, Rory.