AUGUSTA, Ga. – Rory McIlroy won four majors from 2011 to 2014. He finished 2014 by winning the British Open and PGA Championship. He hasn't won a major since.
Frustrated yet hopeful, philosophical yet driven, McIlroy has spent the past seven years becoming one of the most thoughtful and forthcoming players in golf. On Tuesday at the Masters, in the interview room, he was asked whether he tries to peak for major championships, and he revealed that he had visited Tiger Woods, who is convalescing after his frightful car accident in California in February.
"I think circling them on the calendar is probably the best way to go," McIlroy said. "I was thinking about this. So I went over to Tiger's house a few weeks ago to see him, and in his family room he's got his trophy cabinet and it's his 15 major trophies. I said, 'That's really cool. Where are all the others?'
"He said, 'I don't know.' I go, 'What?' He said, 'Yeah, my mom has some, and a few are in the office and a few are wherever.'
"I was driving home, and I was thinking — I mean, that's all he cared about, all he cared about. So how easy that must have felt for him to win all the others. That was just always in my mind, he talked about these are the four weeks that matter. So the weeks that didn't matter, you know, he racked them up at a pretty fast clip.
"But I'm just thinking to myself, how easy must that have felt for him if all he cared about were four weeks a year. The other stuff must have been like practice. So that's like a really — that's a cool perspective to have, right?
"That's all I could think about on the drive home. And I was glad he was OK, too."
McIlroy is proof that you can live a great life and become quite rich without winning major titles.
He's also proof that if you are one of the most talented players in the world and don't win majors, your career accomplishments will be tainted.
McIlroy needs to win the Masters to complete the career grand slam. He tied for fifth last year, He has finished in the top 10 at six of the past seven Masters.
"Yeah, I would have loved to have done it at this point, but I realize I've still got plenty more years to do it," he said. "But yeah, look, if I were able to do it, I'd join a very small list of golfers in history that have been able to do it."
Five players have won the career grand slam — Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Woods.
At 31,it's hardly too late for McIlroy to join them. "If I can get my head in the right place and feel like my game's where it needs to be, then I have no doubt that I can put it all together," he said.