Another title never feels that far away with Rory McIlroy but it felt like he sort of needed his latest win, at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on Sunday.
Opting out of the BMW Masters in Shanghai the previous week put a little extra pressure on him in the Race To Dubai, and he rose to the occasion admirably to claim both the tournament and the order of merit.
It was McIlroy’s first victory since the ankle ligament injury that prevented him defending his Open title and perhaps a reminder to everyone of just how good he is.
An incredible putt for a bogey at the 17th which kept him one shot ahead of England’s Andy Sullivan was a highlight but his scoring was fantastic, not least a run of four birdies in five holes from the 11th.
He will be delighted to be back in top form. On reflection it’s been a great year, with four wins, and were it not for his unfortunate injury it could have been an incredible one.
McIlroy hurt himself playing football with friends and lots of fellow pros take part in pursuits away from golf. Ryder Cup team-mate Sergio Garcia is handy in a kickabout.
It can lead to injury, though. Five-time Major winner Phil Mickelson missed a significant spell when he was in his prime after breaking his leg in a skiing accident.
This has been a learning experience for Rory and he has now decided to put the football aside. It’s good that he has seen the light and shows that he is wise beyond his 26 years.
I expect him to come back even hungrier next season. The emergence of Jordan Spieth and Jason Day mean that golf is experiencing a golden age a little like that in men’s tennis, and it’s not just those two.
McIlroy is still the best of them, in my view. He has the game to die for, most courses suit him and he makes mincemeat out of them. He has the potential to be right up there and there is much more to come.
It was a great finish to the season, too, for Sullivan, who pushed McIlroy all the way and did nothing wrong, and countryman Matt Fitzpatrick, who also made the Race To Dubai top 15 bonus pool.
Fitzpatrick was cheered on in person by Luis Figo, the former Real Madrid star and a childhood idol of Matt’s who became friends with the young Yorkshireman on social media after his British Masters win this year.