Rory McIlroy reveals how he’s evolved since his last major win

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Rory McIlroy said he's wiser than he was the last time the Tour was at TPC Harding Park in 2015.

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The last time the PGA Tour was at TPC Harding Park for the WGC-Match Play in 2015, things were a lot different in the world. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars were on top of the charts with their song “Uptown Funk,” Donald Trump had yet to announce his presidential campaign, and Tik Tok was still more than a year away from being released.

The golf world was also a wildly different place. Jordan Spieth was fresh off his first major victory, Tiger Woods was ranked outside the top 100, and the young trio of Matthew Wolff, Viktor Hovland and Collin Morikawa were all still in high school.

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Rory McIlroy, the champion of the tournament that week in 2015, is different now, too.

“I’m hopefully a little wiser, a little more mature, a little more experienced,” McIlroy said during his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday at the PGA Championship. “Golf was everything to me, my career, and look, it still is. It’s so important, and I want to make the most of my time on Tour and everything, but there’s other things in my life that have happened that are important to me.”

One of those important life events that McIlroy alluded to is his marriage to Erica Stoll. The two got hitched in Ireland in 2017 after dating for several years. McIlroy has also found his voice in the time since that win in 2015. He’s become the de facto voice of PGA Tour on all kinds of matters, and he rarely minces words when approached on any number of tough subjects. He made that much clear earlier this year when speaking about the proposed Premier Golf League.

“At this point, I don’t like what they’re proposing,” he said back in February. “I would like to be on the right side of history with this one, just as Arnold Palmer was with Greg Norman [and his proposed world tour] in the 90s.”

McIlroy’s win total has also changed in the last five years. As the No. 1-ranked player at the time, he had 10 Tour victories to his credit, including the aforementioned WGC-Match Play. And though his total has swelled to 18 now, he hasn’t added a major title to his resume, with the last coming at the 2014 PGA Championship. And that’s something that does weigh on the four-time major winner.

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“I mean, yeah,” he said when asked in San Francisco if being stuck on four bothers him. “It doesn’t keep me up at night and I don’t think about it every day, but when I play these major championships, it’s something that I’m obviously reminded of … I would have liked to have won a couple more majors in that time frame, and I feel like I’ve had a couple of decent chance to do so and I just haven’t got the job done.”

The good news for McIlroy is he’ll have plenty of opportunities to add to that total over the next 11 months, with seven major championships on the calendar in that timeframe. But even if he doesn’t, the older and wiser McIlroy will be able to keep it all in perspective.

“I’ve got a little more balance (now),” McIlroy said. “I don’t get bogged down as much just by golf. There’s other things that give me joy and give me pleasure and fulfill me.”

Golf.com Editor

Zephyr Melton is an assistant editor for GOLF.com where he spends his days blogging, producing and editing. Prior to joining the team at GOLF.com, he attended the University of Texas followed by stops with Team USA, the Green Bay Packers and the PGA Tour. He assists on all things instruction and is the staff’s self-appointed development tour “expert.”