Rory McIlroy might be World No 1 but the title the Holywood star really wants next is worth more than the million dollas cheque he banked on Sunday - a spanking new Masters green jacket.
The 22-year old was thrilled could take the best that Tiger Woods and Lee Westwood could throw at him in the Honda Classic and still come out on top.
But he has some “unfinished business” to take care of at next month’s Masters and dreams of a final day showdown with the likes of Woods and three-time winner Phil Mickelson.
McIlroy said: “I always had putts on the putting green when I was ten years old to beat Tiger Woods or to beat Phil Mickelson. But hopefully it would be great to turn that into reality at some point.
“They are the best two golfers of this generation, and obviously Tiger’s the best by a long way. It’s quite an honour just to be mentioned in the same sentence as those two guys.”
McIlroy knows now that he has what it takes to earn some Masters redemption following Sunday’s tough examination.
He was unbeatable at last year’s US Open but to win the Honda and take the No 1 spot without playing his very best gave him even more pleasure.
With Woods shooting an eight under 62 and Westwood 63 to pile on the pressure, McIlroy held firm down the stretch, extending his lead to two strokes and then keeping it thanks to his new, super solid putting stroke.
Twelve months ago we were wondering if he would ever have the putting game required to win at Augusta.
But after watching him hole every putt inside 10 feet on Sunday, it’s clear that has more than enough game on the greens to give Woods and Mickelson a run in the Georgia in April.
Both are playing well but McIlroy is up for a dogfight, insisting: “Seeing Phil do what he did at Pebble; Tiger playing the way he did today; hopefully I’m in there somewhere, getting to No. 1.
“It’s great for the game and I think everyone is excited for Augusta to roll around. I definitely know I am.
“I’m looking forward to getting back there and giving it another shot.”
World golf is in an exciting place right now with the likes of Woods, Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald all heading to Augusta with high hopes of winning.
But thanks to his gutsy closing performance, McIlroy’s confidence is sky high.
McIlroy said: “I feel like I’ve always been a pretty confident guy. But I think I’ve got a lot more belief in myself now when I’m going down the stretch. I definitely don’t doubt myself as much as I used to.
“I always felt like when I played my best, I would be hard to beat; Congressional or Quail Hollow or whatever when I play my best, I usually can get quite a lead.
“But I feel at the minute, you know, even if I don’t play my best golf, I can still challenge, which gives me a lot of confidence, also.
“When I’m firing on all cylinders, I feel like I’m hard to beat, but I still feel like I can play better than what I did this week. To be able to do that and still be able to win is very nice.”
He will go to Augusta confident he can close the door and win this time, erasing forever the memories of that back nine meltdown last year, when he shot 80 and finished 15th.
He said: “If I can do the exact same thing this year as I did last year for 63 holes, I’ll be doing okay.
“So hopefully I can do that again, and if I could get myself in that position, maybe finish it off a little better - like I did today.”