rory mcilroyRory McIlroy is the current World Number One and a two-time major champion. At the age of 17, McIlroy opened with a 3-under-par 68 at the 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie. He went on to win the silver medal as leading amateur and turned professional in the same year.

 

In 2008, McIlroy held a four-stroke lead going into the final round of the Omega European Masters in Switzerland. He was taken to a playoff by Frenchman Jean-François Lucquin and lost in a play-off on the second extra hole. McIlroy moved into the World’s top 40 after finishing equal 3rd in the South African Open. His first professional win came at the Dubai Desert Classic in February 2009. This earned him a place at the US Masters, finishing the tournament in equal 20th place.

 

A final round of 68 at the US Open gave him his first top ten finish in a major. He went on to finish tied for third at the 2009 PGA Championship. McIlroy ended the 2009 season second to Lee Westwood in the Race to Dubai and entered the top 10 of the world rankings for the first time. In May 2010, McIlroy recorded his first PGA Tour win at the Quail Hollow Championship, becoming the first player to win a PGA Tour event before his 21st birthday since Tiger Woods. McIlroy started the British Open at St Andrews with a round of 63, the lowest-ever first round score in the history of the Championship. He would eventually have to settle for tied third and narrowly missed out at the 2010 PGA Championship. He three-putted the 15th green when tied for the lead and missed a place in the playoff by one stroke.

 

In 2011, McIlroy opened with a 65 at the Masters to become the youngest player in history to lead the Tournament after the first day. Rounds of 69 and 70 gave him a healthy four-stroke lead going into the final round. However, he proceeded to shoot the worst round in history by any professional golfer leading at the start of the final round of the event, carding an 80 to drop through the field to tied 15th. His first major victory was merely delayed as McIlroy demolished the field in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional. He won by eight strokes to set a new 72-hole record of 268 (16-under par). The victory elevated McIlroy to fourth place in the Official World Golf Rankings.

 

At the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in Arizona, McIlroy beat Westwood in the semi-finals to go ahead of the Englishman in the Race to Dubai. He then won the Honda Classic in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida to claim the World Number 1 spot.

 

He added his second major title at the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island by a record eight shots. A birdie on the final hole eclipsed the record set by Jack Nicklaus in 1980. McIlroy won the Deutsche Bank Championship to go to the top of the PGA Tour money list and followed up with victory in the BMW Championship. A second place at the BMW Masters and third at the Barclays Singapore Open secured the Race To Dubai to give him top spot on both the European and PGA Tour for the season.

 

McIlroy came in for criticism when joining Nike at the end of the 2012 season, ending a successful partnership with Titleist. Sir Nick Faldo was among those questioning the wisdom of the move and McIlroy made an indifferent start to his 2013 season.