Padraig Harrington reckons the Holywood star, given good health and fair fortune, can win up to 15 more Major titles.
Sunday’s Open victory at Hoylake brought World No 2 McIlroy’s tally to three, so another 15 would equal the all-time record 18 won by Jack Nicklaus.
Yet Harrington explains that outside factors, like the back surgery which ruled Tiger Woods out of this year’s Masters and US Open, can “throw a spanner in the works.”
McIlroy, still only 25, must strike while his game is hot as rack-up as many Majors as he can at the peak of his form and fitness.
“Rory has won three Majors in four years, which is pretty good,” says the Dubliner, who has won three Majors himself.
“If he continues to win at that rate, he’ll have a very successful career,” adds Harrington.
“He could be competitive for the next 20 years … and that’s 15 more majors, but as we’ve found with other players, there are things we can’t foresee down the road. Nobody ever would have thought Tiger would stop at 14. When he got to 14 it appeared almost inevitable he’d get to 18.
“Just because you’re good enough doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Things happen, injuries for example.
“If Rory is to get to high numbers, it is the next years that will determine it. The more years where he wins two or three, that’s how you get to 14 … Tiger had four in a calendar year.
“In 10 years time, then his strike rate might slow down to one every two years, so he won’t be as prolific .So the time for him to play his ‘A’ game is right now.”
“Age is on his side but not necessarily time. I do see a change coming quickly in golf with Rory driving the ball probably better than anybody else in the
“There are a couple of guys longer than him, but he is more effective, he hits it straighter and higher. So he has an advantage and he lives off that because the courses and conditions suit him.
“Whoever it is, if he’s got his A game, whoever is trying to beat him will need their A game to be there with him. Whether that’s an Adam Scott or Tiger, they’re going to have to play their very best to compete with Rory.”
Hungry to keep winning and fulfil his driving ambition to “be the best player that I can be,” McIlroy will not rest on his laurels.
After a party on Sunday night with 14 of his family and friends in the house he rented in Hoylake, where the famous Jug got probably its first lick of Jaegermeister, McIlroy flew back to Belfast yesterday with mum Rosie and dad Gerry for a brief visit home.
He’s off to Gleneagles tomorrow to fulfil sponsors engagement, then he is in London on Thursday for one of his regular physical test sessions.
On Friday he heads for the US to begin preparations for next week’s World Golf Championship in Akron, Ohio, then tees it up in the US PGA at Valhalla next Thursday week, for which McIlroy already is 6/1 favourite.
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