Why Rory McIlroy’s chances of winning the career Grand Slam may have already passed
Ever since 2015, the narrative going into the Masters Tournament has focused on the same subplot: will Rory McIlroy complete the career Grand Slam?
The Northern Irishman won two majors in 2014 to set himself up for the Grand Slam the following year. However, what once seemed like a foregone conclusion has now turned into an objective that is far from straightforward.
The 2023 Masters
It should be pointed out that the latest golf betting odds for the year’s first Major still make McIlroy one of the favorites to win the green jacket. This is owing largely to his dominant form in the lead-up to the event at Augusta National.
The latest Masters betting odds list McIlroy at just +750 to win the tournament – which is the best price tied only with Scottie Scheffler.
Extremely proud to be the first to be World No. 1, FedEx Cup Champion and @DPWorldTour No. 1 in the same year. I truly appreciate all of your support!
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) November 20, 2022
With these telling odds in mind, the task of winning the Masters for the first time may seem doable for McIlroy – a sentiment that the latest online sports news pages are reporting in the build-up to the event. However, the stark reality is that the 33-year-old’s chances of completing the career Grand Slam may have already come and gone.
McIlroy’s trajectory falls outside of the trend
The reason for this is simple: history shows us that players who were able to win all four majors have done so over a relatively short period of time. In other words, their success has more or less come at once and hasn’t been spread out over a stretch of many years. For instance, Jack Nicklaus completed the Grand Slam between 1963 and 1966, Gary Player did it over the years 1961 and 1965 and Tiger Woods managed it from 1997 to 2000.
In fact, in the history of the sport, only Bobby Jones has taken over five years to complete the Grand Slam, with his wins coming between 1924 and 1930.
If McIlroy had managed to win the Masters in 2015 or 2016 after winning his first major in 2011, he would have kept to a historical time frame that would have been consistent with others who had completed the Grand Slam. As has been well documented, we know that McIlroy wasn’t able to and, when the Northern Irishman tees off at the 2023 Masters, there would have been 12 years between him winning his first major and trying to complete the Grand Slam.
If you were to base your opinion solely on the trends of times gone by, then the truth is that the window seems to have shut for McIlroy – a jarring thought if you’re a fan of the 33-year-old.
Never say never
However, we know that hope springs eternal at the Masters in early April and, when the 1600 azaleas that line the course bloom into their awe-inspiring purple, anything can and does happen.
April in Augusta. #themasters pic.twitter.com/ShlKxIu08p
— The Masters (@TheMasters) April 10, 2022
In this sense, the dream will never be over for McIlroy and, at just 33, he still has his destiny in his hands. Yes, the task is now harder and more intense, but if anyone is going to rewrite the manual on how long it takes to win a Grand Slam, it will be Rory McIlroy.