DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES | Rory McIlroy achieved something here Sunday that no one else has ever done in golf.
In the year just ending, the Northern Irishman returned to world No. 1 and won the points list on the DP World Tour, which used to be known as the Race to Dubai, having already claimed the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup crown in late August. Henrik Stenson has won those same two titles in the same year (2013), but he was not world No. 1 at the time.
“It has been a fantastic year,” McIlroy said after shooting 4-under-par 68 for a 16-under 272 total and fourth place at the DP World Tour Championship on the Earth Course at Jumeirah Golf Estates, four strokes behind winner Jon Rahm. “I don’t think I have ever been as consistent as I am now. I am very proud of myself.
“Harry (caddie Harry Diamond) and I were talking going up the last fairway. It seems like it’s a long time since the Texas Open the week before Augusta when I was sort of struggling a little bit and made a couple of tweaks with my game and with my equipment. I went to a different golf ball, and it seemed like just after that, my whole year turned around and got a ton of momentum at the Masters and just went from there.”
“I am as complete a golfer as I feel like I’ve ever been. I am 33, and my body is in the best shape it has ever been. Hopefully I can continue on this path.”
McIlroy missed the cut in the Valero Texas Open before he finished runner-up to Scottie Scheffler in the Masters, which remains the missing piece to a career Grand Slam. He followed with consecutive top-10 results at the Wells FargoChampionship and PGA Championship. McIlroy won the RBC Canadian Open in June, then added the Tour Championship title and resulting FedEx Cup crown before winning the CJ Cup in South Carolina four weeks ago for his 23rd PGA Tour victory.
“One of the things I’m really proud of over the last few years is I don’t feel I have to rely on one aspect of my game,” he said. “I think if my driving isn’t there, then my putter bails me out. If my putter isn’t there, my iron play bails me out. I feel like when you get to this level, it’s like, OK, how can you make those incremental improvements to get better?