PARAMUS, United States: Top-ranked Rory McIlroy tries to become only the fifth player in PGA history to win four consecutive starts when the season-ending US tour playoffs begin Thursday with The Barclays.
The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland won last month’s British Open and followed with his first World Golf Championships title at Akron, Ohio, before claiming the PGA Championship two weeks ago for his fourth major title.
“Whenever you’re on a run like this, your expectations are sky high,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “When you get on a run like this and momentum is on your side, a lot of things fall your way.”
McIlroy, the first winner of back-to-back majors since Irishman Padraig Harrington in 2008, could join an exclusive list by winning this week at Ridgewood Country Club in suburban New York.
Four players in PGA history have produced win streaks of at least four tournaments, with Byron Nelson claiming the record at 11 wins in 1945, Tiger Woods taking a career-best seven in a row in 2006 and early 2007, Ben Hogan having a run of six in a row in 1948 and Jack Burke winning four straight in 1952.
Woods has had runs of five and six in a row as well as seven and is the only man since Hogan won five in a row in 1953 to win at least four in a row.
McIlroy could carve his name onto that list with a victory and take a major step toward winning the playoff crown.
“For me it would just be gratifying if I could finish off this season well and finish off the season the way it should be finished,” McIlroy said. “I’m playing this good golf. I’ve had a great year, an awesome summer. I want to be up there in contention week-in and week-out.
“I feel like the season I’ve had deserves a finish like that. I’m going to just grind out every week that I can. It’s a big four weeks coming up.
“It just means you have to play well right until the end and I don’t mind that. I’m going to go for as long as I can playing well.”
Australia’s Adam Scott is the defending champion and hopeful of adding the playoff crown after going without a major title this year following his breakthrough first major victory at last year’s Masters.
“If you asked me Sunday night at the Masters when I won, if I would win one of the next seven, I could have assured you I would,” Scott said.
“But it hasn’t happened that way and that’s not a surprise now. It’s just the way the game is. It’s not easy to win.”
Scott, who won last year’s title on a different course, had two top-10 efforts at majors this year but won only once in 15 US PGA starts this season.
After falling ill during the last playoff event last year to miss out on a playoff crown, a strong finish would help spark Scott into next season.
“It will feel like I’ve achieved something this year,” Scott said.
“Obviously to go through and not win a major when my mind was really set on that, it was disappointing.
“But there’s always something to play for, whether it’s this week or over the next month. I’d like to walk away with at least another PGA Tour win this season and hopefully maybe two.”
Scott praised McIlroy’s run, noting how his prior struggles in second rounds had been a hot topic before his British Open win and have faded with his streak of success over the past month.
“In the week before the Open it was the ‘Friday curse’ and Rory is cursed and since then he has been blessed,” Scott said.
“Rory has had a whole career in four weeks. That’s a Hall of Fame career in four weeks out here. That’s amazing golf.”