Tom Watson: Rory McIlroy will join the ‘Fab Five’

It seems like people have recently forgotten that Rory McIlroy is still one of the ‘younger guys’ on the PGA Tour. The Irishman is the same age as Brooks Koepka, whom we classified as one of the sport’s rising stars.

Aside from Jordan Spieth, McIlroy is the only player on the Tour with three legs of the career Grand Slam. All he needs is to be cloaked in a green jacket to secure his place in one of golf’s most elite classes. Gene Sarazen, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, and Gary Player complete the Fab Five of Grand Slam winners.

One golf legend who fell just short of that list thinks that McIlroy is primed to join it by the end of his career. That legend would be Tom Watson, the owner of 70 professional golf wins – including eight Major victories.

“It’s hard to say [if McIlroy will do the Grand Slam]. Again it’s very difficult to just predict what tournaments you’re going to win. He certainly has the capabilities of winning any tournament he plays in and he certainly has two [actually three] legs of the grand slam right now.

“I would expect by the end of his career, he’s also a very young man. He will probably complete the grand slam.”

McIlroy owns one of the Tour’s most beautiful and fluid swings. For the most part, he drives the ball with some of the game’s longest drivers and does it with great accuracy.

Don’t forget that McIlroy’s iron game and touch around the greens are impeccable as well. One of the things that that holds McIlroy back from winning some of these Major championships is his work with the flat iron. We marvel at the wins Spieth has attained and those have come down to how well he can one-putt under pressure. We saw the same thing when Tiger Woods was dominating the game in the mid-2000’s.

The way for McIlroy to complete the Grand Slam and reach double-digits in Major victories is to become a sniper with the putter. He needs to possess the ability to drain anything within 10-15 feet of the cup. McIlroy already has the ability to stick the ball close with his irons, he just needs to seal the deal on easy birdie opportunities.

McIlroy went into Quail Hollow two weeks ago as a co-favorite with Jordan Spieth to win the PGA Championship. Even though McIlroy did not need the Major to complete the Grand Slam, he still wanted to add a fifth Major to his mantle in his chase for Nicklaus’ record for Majors (18).

Apparently, a rib injury caused McIlroy to falter at a Quail Hollow where he holds the course record of 61. He contemplated taking a leave of absence to recover only to say that he will be competing in the FedEx Cup and vie for that $10 million purse.

That rib injury certainly didn’t stop McIlroy from visiting Yankee Stadium on Monday afternoon to crush balls into the bleachers like Aaron Judge.

6 iron for my first home run at the @yankees stadium ⚾️🏌🏼

A post shared by RORY (@rorymcilroy) on

The event was a kick-off for the FedEx Cup and a ceremony for the $1 million FedEx donated to St. Jude Hospital in McIlroy’s name.

The four-time Major champion talked about his injury status and how his caddie search has gone.

“It’s a funny one. Obviously, I played two weeks in a row and I hit balls every day so it was a heavy schedule. I’ve really tried to rest and it’s felt better and manageable.”

“I’m not at 100 percent, but I’m at a percent where I feel like I can still compete. I want to get a win before I shut it down for the season, so I’m excited for the next few weeks, but I’m excited for the next three months after that. Because more than likely I’ll take some time off and regroup. When’s the last time I’ve been able to take that much time off and focus on myself and my game. We don’t get an off-season anymore, so to be able to get that time to afford myself, I’m really excited about that as well.”

McIlroy, barring any injuries, has more than enough time to complete the career Grand Slam. And with a swing as pretty as his, we should see a Green Jacket on his back in the very near future. Tom Watson believes it…and so should you.

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