It’s absolutely a no-brainer that Rory McIlroy was the best golfer in the world in 2012. The world rankings say so, the money list on both sides of the Atlantic confirm that and players, fans and media around the globe agree.
Rory won five times during the season, including the PGA Championship, twice in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the European Tour’s DP World Tour Championship. And it was not only the quality of the tournaments that he won which makes him a standout, it is also the fashion in which he won them.
At Kiawah Island, he won his second career Major title, once again walloping the field by a mind-boggling eight shots. In Dubai, under pressure from a rampaging Justin Rose on the final day, he calmly made five birdies in his last five holes to win by two shots. It was just brilliant.
My thoughts go back to the time of the BMW PGA Championship, when he faced a lot of heat from the British media and experts of the game after missing three cuts in four starts, including the US Open, where he was the defending champion. And I had written then that I did not see anything wrong with his commitment, nor with his technique. I am glad he proved me right.
Like Tiger Woods, Rory is a once-in-a-generation golfer. And because of his performance so far, it is easy to forget he is just a 23-year-old. I definitely think his best is yet to come and I also think he is not going to struggle much in changing his equipment once the much-anticipated announcement about the change of his equipment sponsor is made. I definitely think he will continue to mesmerise the world this year and for years to come.
Speaking of Woods, he too had a very good year, but such is the bar that he has set that nobody seems to be satisfied with the three big wins he had in 2012. Everyone wants to wait for his 15th Major title and I won’t be surprised if their wait is as short as four months. I have no doubts Woods will contend for Majors regularly, starting as soon as the Masters.
Personally, the biggest moment for me was my win at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. Even though I have won the European Tour’s season-ending Volvo Masters at Valderrama in 2006, I still consider the win in Scotland the finest of my career. It came at a time when I needed it the most, as I was getting a bit frustrated with the spate of injuries I’ve had in recent years.
I do think I was lucky that Sunday. Of course, given the weather conditions, I had a fantastic start, but the opportunity to get into the playoff was luck because the field fell back in the closing stretch. Having said that, I have always believed that you do need to have lady luck on your side to win tournaments.
I am starting the new season with the Volvo Golf Champions in South Africa, followed by the Desert Swing. And the big aim by the time I finish the Omega Dubai Desert Classic is to be inside the top-50 of the world rankings. Let’s see how the plan goes.
— Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time champion on the European Tour