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Why Rory McIlroy's 2019 season at major championships was even worse than you think

July 23, 2019

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There's no debate that Rory McIlroy has played great golf more consistently than anyone else in 2019. Including victories at the Players and the Canadian Open, the 30-year-old Northern Irishman has finished in the top 10 a remarkable 11 of 14 times he's teed it up on the PGA Tour since January. But despite such steady, strong play, McIlroy's drought in major championships will be approaching six years when he tees it up at the 2020 Masters.

It's not that McIlroy played awful in golf's four biggest events this year—two of those top 10s came at the PGA Championship (T-8) and U.S. Open (T-9)—but he certainly didn't perform up to the lofty level that he has in other events, including a certain "fifth major." In addition to those pair of (barely) top 10s, McIlroy finished T-21 at the Masters and missed the cut last week at the Open Championship in his home country of Northern Ireland. And another stat shows how disappointing his collective showing in those four tournaments was.

Twitter's unofficial Official World Golf Ranking guru @Nosferatu calculated the world ranking points earned by players in major championships this year. And despite Rory ranking high in just about every other metric in 2019 (First in strokes gained total on the PGA Tour, second in total world ranking points gained, third in FedEx Cup points, etc.), he just makes the top 20 of this list topped (obviously) by Brooks Koepka. Check it out:

First of all, Brooks. Wow. The man who became just the fifth golfer to finish in the top five of all four majors in one year is nearly double No. 2 Shane Lowry, who in addition to his popular win at Royal Portrush also finished T-8 at Bethpage Black. Lowry nips U.S. Open champ Gary Woodland, who is followed by Dustin Johnson—the only player in the top 5 without a major win this year—and Masters champ Tiger Woods.

There aren't many surprises on the list—maybe Matt Wallace at No. 11—until you get down to McIlroy at No. 20. And it gets worse for the four-time major champ when you take a closer look at his average points earned.

In the majors, McIlroy averaged earning 8.26 points, which is less than his current two-year average of 8.404 that ranks third behind Koepka and Johnson. At first glance, you might expect a player to earn fewer points in the bigger, tougher events, but the majors offer about twice as many points as regular PGA Tour events. For example, McIlroy earned 48 points for his win in Canada, while the four major champs all earned 100 points. (Rory received 80 points for his Players victory in March.)

In any event, there's little argument McIlroy has had a fantastic season. Sadly for him, though, his struggles in the majors were even more obvious.