Skip to content

Rory McIlroy and The Masters: Is 2024 finally his time for Grand Slam glory at Augusta National?

Rory McIlroy successfully defended his Hero Dubai Desert Classic title to register a first win of 2024; McIlroy will have another opportunity to claim an elusive fifth major victory and complete the career Grand Slam this April at The Masters, live on Sky Sports

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts after holing out from the bunker for a birdie during the final round at the Masters golf tournament on Sunday, April 10, 2022, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

When the world’s top golfers descend on Augusta National this April for The Masters, regardless of what else is going in the sport, one question will once again dominate the conversation.

Yes, the Framework Agreement between the PGA Tour, DP World Tour and Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF), who bankroll LIV Golf, may have been finalised by then and the future of the sport - for better or for worse - could require further discussion.

Yes, there will be chat around Tiger Woods' fitness and whether he can seriously challenge for a history-making sixth Masters title, along with Jon Rahm's hopes of defending his title and other players in contention for major victory.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Relive how Jon Rahm secured his second major title with victory at the 2023 Masters

However, focus around one question will remain that week: When, or will, Rory McIlroy ever complete the career Grand Slam?

It's a talking point that has filled thousands of column inches, been subject of countless television debates and even consumed the world No 2 himself at times over the past decade, with McIlroy still searching for the only major missing from an already Hall of Fame-worthy CV.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports Golf is once again the home of golf in 2024, with the majors, PGA Tour, DP World Tour and more all exclusively live

When McIlroy squandered a four-shot lead on the final day of the 2011 contest, it seemed unfathomable to think that - some 13 years on - we would be looking at the Northern Irishman as someone still looking for his maiden Masters title.

It also seemed unfathomable that, when McIlroy won the 2014 PGA Championship to claim a second major in as many months and fourth in as many years, he would not have added to his major tally over the following nine seasons.

Also See:

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Take a look back at the best bits from Rory McIlroy's final round at the 2014 PGA Championship, the most recent of his four major titles

McIlroy has had 20 (yes, TWENTY) top-tens in majors during that winless stretch, more than any other player during the same period, with the 34-year-old finishing inside that mark in six of his previous nine attempts to complete the career Grand Slam.

Ending the major drought has been described by McIlroy as the "final piece of the puzzle", while Tiger Woods said at last year's edition of The Masters it was "just a matter of time" before we would see his long-time friend win the Green Jacket. So, will 2024 be the year it happens?

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Sky Sports Golf's Josh Antmann and Henni Koyack make their predictions for the winners of the 2024 golf majors

McIlroy a force in majors

A customary glance at McIlroy's Augusta results would show two missed cuts in his past three visits to The Masters, although April's early exit is an anomaly and the only time he has failed to finish inside the top eight of a major during the last two years.

McIlroy finished runner-up at Augusta National after an incredible final-day charge in 2022, came agonisingly close to lifting the Claret Jug at St Andrews later that summer and then narrowly missed out to Wyndham Clark at the US Open last year, with his remarkable consistency making him a contender almost every time he tees it up.

That consistency has transferred to the regular tours, with McIlroy winning three times on his way to a record third FedExCup title in the 2021-22 PGA Tour season and topping the DP World Tour's Race to Dubai rankings each of the past two years.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Relive Rory McIlroy's impressive 2023, where he registered two wins, claimed a fifth Race to Dubai title and played a starring role in Europe's Ryder Cup triumph

McIlroy has posted top-10 finishes in all but three of his 16 starts since May and finished no worse than 22nd during that time, although still only described his 2023 campaign as a "seven out of ten" despite that remarkable form and his starring role in Europe's Ryder Cup victory.

Resignation from the PGA Tour's policy board last autumn has given more focus towards on-course matters for the year ahead, with McIlroy making a fast start to the new season by following a runner-up finish at the Dubai Invitational by defending his Hero Dubai Desert Classic title.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The best of the action from the final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club in Dubai

McIlroy recovered from being 10 behind at the halfway stage to claim a one-shot victory, a record fourth at the Rolex Series event, having used memories of last year's Masters disappointment to inspire the biggest weekend comeback of his career.

"I've told this story numerous times now about the first green on Friday [at The Masters], and Brooks [Koepka] was on the eighth green and I saw the big leaderboard, and I was already 10 behind at that point," McIlroy explained after his Dubai victory.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Rory McIlroy says it feels 'incredible' after securing a record fourth title at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic with an impressive one-shot win

"I was 10 behind after two days this week and ended up winning the golf tournament. I feel like I've taken that learning already and put it into practice a little bit already. Yeah, that's a huge thing for me."

Masters on the mind for McIlroy?

McIlroy's win closes the gap between him and Scottie Scheffler at the top of the world rankings and puts him early leader in the DP World Tour's Race to Dubai standings, although insists there are improvements still required in his game ahead of The Masters.

"I think it [winning] really can sort of act as a nice springboard into the rest of the year," McIlroy explained. "I feel good about everything I've done over the past couple of weeks, and it's been a great start to the year and I want to kick on from here.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with his trophy after he won the final round of the Hero Dubai Desert Classic golf tournament, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
Image: Rory McIlroy had already won the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in 2009, 2015 and 2023

"I still feel like there's a few things I need to improve, but every week I play, I learn a little bit more, and hopefully I'll take the learnings from this week into the next few weeks and building up to the major season."

McIlroy will now shift his focus to the PGA Tour, playing in both of February's Signature Events ahead of the Florida Swing, with the four-time major champion looking to use his early-season win and the upcoming events to be fully ready for his latest Grand Slam bid this April.

"Look, Augusta is still a long way away in golfing terms," McIlroy added. "A lot can change in two and a half months. But it's always nice to get a win. It's always nice to feel like you're playing well going into it.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Rory McIlroy looked back on his 2023 season at the DP World Tour Championship and gave his verdict on how he performed

"I've always said that I'll take execution over preparation every single time because you just have to execute the golf shots, especially there [Augusta]. I think last year at Augusta, I learnt a lot about myself.

"I've still got some big events to come but you know, I think from now until that first or second week in April, you know, at least a part of my mind is going to be towards getting myself absolutely ready for there."

Live PGA Tour Golf

McIlroy's road to latest Masters push

McIlroy has already confirmed he will have a busier early-season schedule than previous years, telling Golf Digest he will make The Masters his "eighth or ninth event of the year", with the switch the latest way to try and end the long wait for an elusive fifth major.

He will next feature at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am from February 1-4 ahead of the Genesis Invitational from February 15-18, then will play the Arnold Palmer Invitational from March 7-10 before The Players the following week.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Everything you need to know about the 2024 schedule for the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup rules and regulations

The rest of his pre-Masters schedule has yet to be confirmed, with a trip to the Cognizant Classic - an event he won when it was the Honda Classic in 2012 - at the start of the Florida Swing or the Valero Texas Open - where McIlroy played in 2022 the week before Augusta National - among the other additional options.

McIlroy has previously described The Masters as "the Disneyland of golf". A decade on from his last major success, perhaps 2024 can finally be the year that McIlroy's dreams come true.

Watch Rory McIlroy in action throughout 2024 live on Sky Sports. McIlroy's latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam at The Masters will be exclusively live from April 11-14 on Sky Sports Golf. Stream the majors, PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour and more on NOW.

Around Sky