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Rory not hung up on drought

McIlroy insists wait for fifth Major not irritating

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Rory McIlroy bids for a fifth Major at the US PGA this week. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy bids for a fifth Major at the US PGA this week. Photo: Getty Images

Getty Images

Rory McIlroy bids for a fifth Major at the US PGA this week. Photo: Getty Images

The numbers are frightening in their brilliance. Worldwide starts, 307. Cuts made, 255 (83 per cent). Top 10s, 153 (50 per cent). Career earnings, $76 million. Wins, 26. Majors, 4.

By any measure, Rory McIlroy has had a Hall of Fame career already, and while he has only just reached the halfway mark, it's a sign of the high standards he has set himself that he has left many wondering why he has gone almost six years without adding to his tally in the Grand Slam events.

The mercurial Down man will bid to end that quest for an elusive fifth Major win in this week's PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, where he brilliantly won the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play.

And while he still has another decade or more of his career remaining, his performances in the game's biggest events in recent years suggest that he has yet to find a way of answering the question he appeared to know by rote just a few years ago,

He needs only the green jacket awarded to the winner of the Masters to become just the sixth man to complete the career Grand Slam. 

And yet when one looks at the Major frustrations he has endured since he captured The Open and the PGA Championship in that magical summer of 2014, he gives the impression of a man playing with the weight of the world on his shoulders, as we saw at Royal Portrush last July.

McIlroy denies that it bothers him, saying that his failure to get that fifth Major win is not something that he considers "an irritation". "I think if I hadn't won a Major then it would be an irritation," he said. "It's not as if I don't know that I can do it. Maybe the challenges are a little different, maybe the people I have to go up against are different but being able to do it and doing it so emphatically with the first couple I won … it is in there. 

"It's not as if I don't have the capability, especially coming off a season like the last one; PGA Tour player of the year, won four times, beat some of the best fields in golf. But of course you want to win the biggest events."

Since his fourth Major win in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, he has now played in 19 Majors without success - 21 if you include this year's cancelled Open and the 2015 edition at St Andrews that he missed after injuring his ankle playing football.

Even Jack Nicklaus had to wait 19 Majors between his 17th win in the 1980 PGA and that epic final victory in the 1986 Masters.

Tiger Woods walked in the wilderness for 11 years before he captured last year's Masters, ending a run of 28 consecutive 'failures' in the big ones.

Lee Trevino had to wait ten years (and 33 disappointments) to capture his sixth and final Major at the 1984 PGA Championship.

"We play 25 tournaments a year, it's not as if the other 21 don't count," McIlroy pointed out. "If we keep prolonging the Major narrative, it's not good for our game."