Rory McIlroy goes into 2020 with confidence high, but can he end his barren run in the majors?
Last Updated: 31/12/19 1:23pm
Rory McIlroy enjoyed one of the best years of his career despite coming up short in the majors once again, but it's not yet time to press the alarm bells. David Livingstone explains why, and backs Jordan Spieth to return to the winners' circle in 2020 ...
Everyone has been talking about the incredible consistency of Rory McIlroy in 2019, with four brilliant wins and several top-10s in 2019, but I often think back to a quote from Padraig Harrington, when he said: "Consistency is overrated."
Rory deserves all the praise he has earned for such a good year, but I'm sure he knows that, until he starts winning majors again, then all that noise is not going to go away.
The big test for him now is to take the amazing form he has shown over the last 12 months and translate that into major victories. That's the logical way of looking at it.
The other thing he had to do in 2019 was to get the better of Brooks Koepka, and he overcame that at the Tour Championship, so he did everything that was asked of him this year - apart from the obvious! If he doesn't win a major in 2020, then more people will question if he's got another one in him.
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So much success came to him at an early age, and he's enjoyed a comfortable life. He said this year that golf will not define him as a person, and he's perfectly entitled to say that, but the major wins will define him as a golfer.
I don't think it's time to press any alarm bells, he's still a young man and there have been many who have won majors in their 30s and 40s, so Rory still has time on his side. The important thing is that he goes into 2020 with confidence.
What happened to him in the first round of The Open at Royal Portrush was one of the most shocking events of the year. For someone of his ability, class and temperament to be reduced to that, the nerves on the first tee were more like a handicap golfer than a four-time major champion.
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It doesn't seem to have scarred him, because he did recover in round two, rationalised the situation and got over the disappointment quickly.
Now, the majority of his attention will be on the Masters, and getting over the frustrations he's endured at Augusta National several times. His early-season schedule will be built around the first major of the year.
Deep down, Rory is a deeply strong-minded individual, and he'll do everything he can think of to find a way of getting over the line to earn that elusive Green Jacket. Maybe he succumbed to the dangers of trying too hard in front of his home fans at Portrush so, in the long run, it could be a good thing to get that out of his system.
He'll have a different approach to the four majors in 2020. He hinted this year that he was trying to treat them like any other tournament, but I think he now recognises that he has to have a major mindset.
I don't think trying too hard will be a problem now for someone of his ability.
Who will bounce back in 2020?
Dustin Johnson will be high in that category as he's not had a top 10 finish since finishing runner-up to Brooks Koepka at the PGA Championship in May, but the one I'm expecting to bounce back in 2020 is Jordan Spieth.
He has been one of my favourite players to watch over the last 10 years. If you're giving points to players for what they've achieved in the game, he would get bonus points from me for over-achieving.
Jordan may not got the natural ability of many of his peers, but time and again we saw him get the best out of himself when it really mattered. He was outstanding in 2015 and had the chance to win a calendar Grand Slam after he won the Masters and the US Open.
But what's happened to him since his memorable Open win at Royal Birkdale is quite staggering. But he has talked very sensibly about his dip in form, and you can see clearly that he shares the concerns of his fans.
To achieve what he has when you compare his ability to his contemporaries, you have to have a very strong mind. He has spoken of his struggles with a maturity beyond his years, and he approaches everything with such common sense.
I'm really hoping he can get back to winning ways sooner rather than later. By the time he gets back on the course, I believe Jordan will have figured out what he needs to do to climb back up the world rankings.It would be great to see him contending for majors again in 2020, and I'm sure we'll see that happening.