Rory McIlroy believes he's better prepared than ever to dominate golf after he was voted the PGA Tour Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
As Chesson Hadley took the Rookie of the Year award, McIlroy admitted that he's a far more consistent player than he was when he first won the award in 2012 and now feels ready to go on and turn that domination into more wins.
Jack Nicklaus said last weekend at the Ryder Cup that McIlroy is now better prepared to handle the pressures of being world No 1 and comparing where he is now compared to where he was two years ago, McIlroy agreed.
"I'd say that this year's play was much more consistent," McIlroy said in a teleconference, revealing later that he was on the 18th tee on the Old Course at St Andrews waiting to hit his tee shot when he took the 20-minute call.
"I played 17 PGA Tour events and finished in the top 25 in all 17 and had 12 Top 10s so I think the consistency was much better. Obviously to win an extra major, I feel like it was a more consistent year to 2012. I still had a patch there where I missed four out of five cuts but this year was much more consistent. Every time i tee it up I felt like I had a really good chance to win and that's what I feel I need going forward now. The consistency of my game and being up there each and every week.
Explaining why he's better prepared to handle being No 1 now than he was two years ago, McIlroy said: "I think it's because I had the experience before. I felt like I handled it pretty well in 2012. There were a few things that went on last year that didn't help and I feel like I am in a better position now.
"I am the No 1 player in the world and everything that comes with that, I feel like I have held on to that title long enough now to be able to handle it and I've had a bit of experience at it. I don't think I am world No 1 and need to perform like that. I just go out and try and play as best I can and compete as hard as I can and try to win tournaments."
As for his maturity as a player, he added: "I think from a maturity standpoint and from being in this position for a good bit over the past couple years, I'm probably better equipped to handle it now than I might have been when I first got to No. 1 back in the middle of 2012."
McIlroy crushing win over Rickie Fowler in the Ryder Cup singles at Gleneagles on Sunday underlined how comfortable he now feels as the game's leading figure.
"Yeah, you know, I guess at the Ryder Cup on Sunday there, I guess when you know that it's a straight head‑to‑head battle, you don't really have any other option than to win." he said. "That's basically what it is. That was my mindset going out. I just wasn't going to lose to him. I just wasn't. It wasn't an option, and I knew that I needed a fast start, and that's exactly what happened. I got off to a good start and got up early and never really gave him a chance to get back into it.
"Yeah, really proud of how I played on Sunday and really proud of how I went out there and got a blue point on the board early for the European team. It was just great to be part of another winning Ryder Cup team, and very happy for everyone involved and obviously very happy for Captain McGinley. I thought he did a fantastic job.
"It was a team effort, and it was great to be able to celebrate as part of a team, and yeah, obviously personally very proud of how I played during the week, especially Saturday and Sunday, and just glad I could contribute to the team."
As for the award, PGA Tour members who played in at least 15 official money events this past season were eligible to vote and there was never any doubt that after winning two majors and a WGC that McIlroy would see off competition from FedEx Cup winner Billy Horschel, US Open and Players Championship winner Martin Kaymer, multiple tournament winner Jimmy Walker or Masters champion Bubba Watson.
"It's a very important honour to be voted PGA Tour Player of the Year by your peers," said McIlroy, who also won the award in 2012.
"They are the guys you are trying to beat week in, week out. They are the guys who put the hard work in. To know that they appreciate what you have put into it and how well you have played is a great honour.
"It is a great honour to win twice in the space of three years and hopefully I can win it for many more years to come. It's a nice way to cap off what has been another great PGA Tour season for me."
McIlroy 25, receives the Jack Nicklaus Award in recognition of being voted PGA TOUR Player of the Year for the second time in three seasons.
In 2012, he became the youngest player to earn the award since Tiger Woods in 1999. Since the PGA TOUR began its Player of the Year Award in 1990, McIlroy becomes the fourth player to receive the honor multiple times, joining 11-time winner Tiger Woods and two-time winners Greg Norman and Nick Price.
McIlroy won three times on the PGA TOUR this season, doing so in impressive fashion by winning in consecutive starts at The Open Championship, World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational and PGA Championship – with the latter representing his fourth Major Championship. He became the first player since Padraig Harrington (2008) with wins in back-to-back major championships.
Following his victory at the Bridgestone Invitational, McIlroy regained the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking and has held the top position ever since.
A model of consistency throughout the season, McIlroy tallied a Tour-best 12 top-10 finishes and failed to finish outside the top 25 in any of his 17 TOUR starts.
In addition to his three wins, he also added runner-up finishes at The Honda Classic and Tour Championship by Coca-Cola, with his second-place finish at East Lake leading to a third-place finish in the FedExCup.
McIlroy earned the Arnold Palmer Award as the TOUR’s leading official money winner ($8,280,096). He also was the winner of the Byron Nelson Award for adjusted scoring average (68.83).
The Northern Ireland native is one of three Europeans to earn the Jack Nicklaus Award, joining England’s Luke Donald (2011) and Ireland’s Padraig Harrington (2008).
The Ulsterman pointed to his runner up finish in the Honda Classic, where he was beaten in a playoff, as an important result though he insisted it was his win in the European Tour's flagship BMW PGA at Wentworth that sent him on his way after he had put a fraught 2013 behind him with a late season victory in the Australian Open.
"Honda was a big week for me just to get myself in the mix again in a PGA Tour event and nearly pull off the win," he said. "That gave me a lot of belief going forward that I could play well this season.
"The catalyst for this year probably wasn't even on the PGA Tour but back at the BMW PGA at Wentworth. To get that first win of the season there was important and to gave me the confidence going into the summer and I had a good stretch in the summer. It's been an incredible run and I am just trying to keep it going as long as I can."