Players Championship: Rory McIlroy deserved Sawgrass victory, says Paul McGinley
McIlroy well set for Masters challenge at Augusta after his Players success, says 2014 Ryder Cup-winning captain McGinley
Last Updated: 18/03/19 3:30pm
Paul McGinley praises Rory McIlroy for his Players Championship victory and looks at what it could mean for his Masters hopes.
This victory has been coming for Rory McIlroy. We've been saying it for a while now, this is probably as consistent and as good as he has ever played in his whole career.
His putting looked as good as it has ever been, and his chipping, bunker play and driving are just spectacular. His iron play is solid and all facets of his game, week on week, are just so consistent.
A 70 wasn't a great score on the last day, but was good enough to get him over the line. A lot of the good work was done over the first three days and he got a bit of help on Sunday, as Jason Day, Tommy Fleetwood and Jon Rahm all shot par or higher and got out of the way easily for him.
What I really liked about McIlroy, what was different today compared to when he hasn't won, was when he got a sniff - when he got that birdie on nine - the whole body language changed.
He seemed to say, 'OK, I can now see the finishing line' and he seemed to go up a gear on the back nine. Yes, he made the one mistake but he came back really quickly with a birdie at the next hole and once he got that he stood up on the 16th tee and smashed it further than anyone else.
If you look at him historically over this golf course, he's played the first nine holes in 10 over par and he's 15 under par for the back nine, so the back nine definitely suits his game. The way he played 17 and 18 was impeccable and he's a deserved champion.
The next stage
Winning is very important as it validates all the things that you are doing and tells you that you are on the right track. Top-sixes are important, but for a player of McIlroy's quality needs to be getting wins and needs to be adding big titles to his CV like he has just done.
If you look back through the history of the Masters, they all won earlier in the season before going to have success, so winning early in the year seems to be having a bit of correlation going on with having a good Masters.
The golf course at Augusta really suits him there and he is on the threshold of history should he complete the Grand Slam by winning that.
The way he is approaching things at the moment and knocking that pressure away and saying, 'I'm in the moment' seems to be certainly working for him and you can see it in the consistency of his results.