I have taken the liberty of setting Rory McIlroy’s big goal for 2013: Win the Masters and the British Open.
Why not? All of the greats win multiple majors in one or more seasons as shown by the table of the seven most prolific major winners (6+) of the Modern Era (1958-now). The table shows the number of multiple winning seasons, and their age when they notched their first.
5 – 23 — Jack Nicklaus
4 – 24 — Tiger Woods
2 – 30 — Arnold Palmer
2 – 27 — Tom Watson
1 – 31 — Lee Trevino
1 – 38 — Gary Player
1 – 33 — Nick Faldo
A double major winning season in 2013 would come at age 24 (McIlroy turns 24 on May 4), the same year Woods notched his first multiple major winning season, and only one year later than Nicklaus got his first. McIlroy could also join Tom Watson as the only players to win multiple majors in a season while in their twenties.
So, why the Masters and the British Open? History shows that this is the easiest duo to win, with 7 of the 17 doubles made up of these two events. In addition, McIlroy could erase the demons of 2011 Masters when he imploded with a final round of 80, and at the 2010 British Open where he followed an opening 63 with an 80.
Wins in these two events would also enable McIlroy to complete the Career Grand Slam, and to build the kind of career momentum that could propel him to a double digit major winning career. As you know, only Nicklaus and Woods live in that rarefied air among those who have competed in the Modern Era.
If McIlroy is as good as most think he is, he will have one or more multiple major winning seasons – and there is no time like the present while he is young, hungry, and is clearly the best in the world.
As for Woods, it is looking less likely that he has the game to win two in a year. If he doesn’t, Nicklaus will end up leading him in Big Seasons, 5-4.