The clock started ticking On July 20, 2014, the day, Rory McIlroy, won The Open at Liverpool. It was his third Major and he had won one each of the US Open (2011), PGA (2012) and now The Open (2014). He would add a second PGA in 2014 at the Valhalla on August 10.
Now all eyes were on the Masters in 2015. But Jordan Spieth never gave anyone a chance. He just took the lead and kept it for all four days till the Green Jacket was draped over him. McIlroy finished fourth, but it may as well miles behind – make that six shots, as Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose in Tied-2ndwere four behind Spieth.
McIlroy should have completed the Career Grand Slam in 2014 itself. In 2011, he held a four-shot lead going into the final round of the Masters but then shot 80 to drop to T-15. It was a collapse that would have broken most players, but McIlroy recovered fast and won the very next Major – the US Open for his first Major crown.
Since 2014 Open McIlroy is still waiting to join that exclusive club of players – Jack Nicklaus (won each of the Majors at least 3 times each), Tiger Woods (won each of the Majors at least 3 times each), Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.
The World No. 1, McIlroy, who finished in Top-10 five times in a row between 2014 and 2018, feels the re-arranged calendar with the Masters in November could be just what he needs to end his long wait for a green jacket.
The Covid Pandemic has pushed the Masters from its traditional April date over the Easter weekend to November and is now re-scheduled to take place November 12-15.
Speaking to Michelle Wie on an Instagram Live with Nike Golf, McIlroy said: “The Masters means so much.
“Obviously it’s the last major for me to win but putting that aside, it is such a special place, so many great memories already. Any time you get to play at Augusta is a lot of fun.
“November is going to be different, very cold, the course could play very long. It plays long already but it can play very long. The greens may not be as fast as in April, depending on the moisture.
“I think it will be a different feel, it’s at the back end of the year. Two of the majors have already been played, hopefully the Ryder Cup’s already been played. People will be in their routine and in the flow a little bit more.
The Masters, at least for 2020, will not be the first big event, hence the hype maybe somewhat less. McIlroy added, “It’s going to be a different Masters this year but personally, maybe selfishly, that’s what I need to get the jacket.”
There have been a bunch of players stranded at three different Majors. Sam Snead and Phil Mickelson never won an US Open; Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Jordan Spieth (till end of 2019) never won a PGA Championship; Lee Trevino and McIlroy (till 2019) never won a Masters; while Byron Nelson and Raymond Floyd never won The Open.
Of all this lot three-quarters of a way around the Career Slam, only Mickelson, McIlroy and Spieth are still very much active.
Mickelson won his last Major in 2013 (The Open); McIlroy won his last Major in 2014 (PGA, though he had already won it once earlier in 2012); and Spieth won his last Major in 2017 (The Open).
So, they are all in the hunt.
The PGA is scheduled first in August and Spieth would like a crack at that; while Mickelson will look at US Open in September with great expectations and McIlroy could finally have that Green Jacket that he covets and deserves.
This will be a year with three Majors with The Open having been cancelled. Ryder Cup, as things stand, is scheduled for its original September 25-27 dates, but that may well change and it could back to be an event held even-numbered years as it used to before 9/11 forced a change almost two decades ago.