McIlroy is the man right now, and everyone knows it. Even Adam Scott, who conceded the world No. 1 ranking to the Northern Irishman this week at the Bridgestone Invitational.
"I think the right guy is at No. 1 at the moment," Scott told reporters as he prepared for this week's United States PGA Championship at Valhalla, the season's fourth and final major. "He's played the best over the last couple months.My consistent play is good, but you want the rankings to work and favour guys that win big events like that.
"So I think it's fair at the moment. I hope that I could go ahead and win this week and maybe go back to No. 1. But there's no doubt Rory has played the best golf over the last few months."
McIlroy ascended to No. 1 for the first time since early in 2013 with his win at Firestone last week, while Scott finished tied-eighth. It continued a pattern for the Australian, who held the world No. 1 slot for 11 weeks. He is incredibly consistent, and he has finished 14th (at the Masters), ninth (US Open) and eighth (Open Championship) in the three majors this year, but he is struggling to finish off and extract the wins. He would return to No. 1 if he won this week, but McIlroy's white hot form scarcely helps his cause.
"We see a lot of great golf played all the time for sure," Scott said. "You know, the dominance of Tiger's play over a ten-year period is unmatched, really, I'd have to say, and was quite incredible.
"I think the biggest difference between me seeing Tiger (Woods) play like that when I was a lot younger, less experienced and not as good a player; and seeing a guy like Rory really stamp his authority down … for the last couple months, is that I believe I'm a better player and I can play at that level. And I think ten or 15 years ago, I didn't have that belief, through lack or experience or whatever it might be.
"I think the biggest thing that held me back was not believing and probably most guys felt like we were beaten before we got out there. And that's different now for tons of reasons, I think.But, you know, it's only motivating to see Rory play so well and … I've said a lot that I feel this is my time, so I've got to beat whatever Rory is trying out there and I believe I can."
Observers have been quick to suggest that this will be McIlroy's era. At 25 he already has three major championships to his name, and his driving at Firestone and Royal Liverpool was from another stratosphere. He averaged 334 yards (305 metres), the best in the field, and 82 percent of his drives exceeded the 300-yard mark. When you consider that a drive must hit the fairway or first cut to even be measured, this is an amazing statistic.
With Tiger Woods seeking treatment for a recurrence of his back injury, it is easy to predict a new era right now. Woods cancelled his pre-tournament press conference, but has not been ruled out. His caddie, Joe LaCava, stepped out the course as is the usual practice.But McIlroy cautioned against simplifying matters. "Sometimes I feel that people are too quick to jump to conclusions and jump on the bandwagon,” he said. "I've had a great run of golf and I've played well over the past few months.''