Rory McIlroy was the world No. 1, riding a streak of seven straight top-five finishes, and defending his title at the Players Championship in March when the PGA Tour pulled down the pandemic shutters. But it was a different McIlroy who re-emerged after lockdown, struggling with both his game and adapting to the new reality of fan-free events. He went winless in 2020, ending his year at the Masters, where he again missed out on a chance to complete the career grand slam, finishing in a tie for 5th.
In the midst of a two-month break from competitive golf — he will next play in January in Abu Dhabi — McIlroy talked with Golfweek about why he grades his 2020 as a “C,” what he saw Dustin Johnson do at Augusta National that he couldn’t do himself, hot button topics like the PGA Tour/European Tour deal and the distance debate, and whether he’s too damned “soft.”
Golfweek: Assign yourself a grade for your 2020.
Rory McIlroy: It was a strange year. [Pause] C.
GW: How do you arrive at that? Is the year automatically a disappointment if you don’t win a major?
Rory: No. I had a great year last year and I didn’t win a major. I came out of the back of last year playing…