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Rory must now learn to win

Sam Torrance
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THE rise and rise of Rory McIlroy goes on it seems with the young Northern Irishman now at a career-high seventh in the world. That, for a young man of 21, is an incredible achievement.

What’s just as amazing about Rory’s leap into the world’s top 10 is that he has done so having won just one event. That shows just how consistent the boy has been with the number of top five and top 10 finishes he has racked up. Now he knows how to play on the big stage, he has to learn how to win. Once he does that, the sky is the limit for this young man.

Another player who climbed up the rankings yesterday was Steve Stricker, who leaped above Phil Mickelson into second with victory in the Northern Trust Open.

Undoubtedly, Stricker has been the best player in the world over the last five years, twice winning the Comeback Player of the Year to rise from around 400 in the world to just behind Tiger at the top.

Sometimes, no matter how many golf balls you hit, you just find something in your swing that clicks and Steve’s newly-discovered shortened swing is obviously working well for him and breeding confidence.

Stricker’s closest rival in Los Angeles was none other than Luke Donald, who showed a welcome return to form, but, for me, he still lacks that winning mentality.

Donald is like the Michael Owen of golf, bags of talent but should have won more over the years than he has. That said, Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie will be encouraged by his recent form.

One player Monty will be surprised at, however, is Miguel Angel Jimenez, who showed nerves of steel to beat European No1 Lee Westwood to the Dubai Desert Classic at the weekend. Jimenez has been a great Ryder Cup pick over the years but, at 46, probably won’t have been in Monty’s initial 12.

Finally a word for Tom Watson, whose eighth place in Dubai took him back to 105th in the world at the age of 60. A phenomenal achievement from a phenomenal man.