ATLANTA – Golf fans likely will see less of Rory McIlroy in 2015.
McIlroy, the world’s top-ranked player, said Wednesday that he intends to trim at least two or three tournaments next season from his anticipated 25-tournament schedule this season.
“I’ll probably let it come down a little bit, maybe make it between 20 and 23,” McIlroy said before this week’s season-ending Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
“Just to try and stay as fresh as possible and give myself the best possible chance each and every week that I tee it up, the best possible chance to play well,” McIlroy said.
It’s hard to argue with the formula among the top players in professional golf that less is more. It has worked for Tiger Woods, Adam Scott and, to an greater extent, Steve Stricker in recent years.
Woods, for example, won eight times on the PGA Tour in 1999 while making only 21 starts. A year later, he won nine times in 20 events. In 2006, he won eight times in 15 starts.
Sure, that’s Tiger Woods, and in the prime of his career. Can McIlroy expect similar results?
McIlroy won the Open Championship and PGA Championship this year to run his majors total to four career. He clearly motivates himself for the big events; it’s the other stops for which he has a hard time gearing up.
Woods excelled at motivating himself to bury the competition, regardless of the event. He loves to compete, regardless of the game.
That character trait might separate McIlroy from Woods in his prime.
But McIlroy, at 25, still has many major championships in front of him.
“I think sometimes you feel like you need to play,” McIlroy said of plotting a schedule on the PGA and European tours. “Sometimes you feel like you need to play the week before a major. There’s a couple of events during the year that you feel obliged to play just because of where you’re from or support different Tour, whatever it is. So there’s always events that sort of creep up on you. In a perfect world, you might not play. But it is what it is. And you have to do your best. “
And so McIlroy continues to shape his emergence as the world’s top player, and none too soon. With Woods no longer the pre-eminent face of the PGA Tour, golf’s organizers need McIlroy to fill what had been a widening void.
Even if it’s only 20 or so events a year.