Gary Player: It’s Rory’s time to join the Grand Slam club

With a long-awaited win under his belt, Rory McIlroy is well placed to become only the sixth player to complete the modern-day Grand Slam of winning all four Majors. He showed unerring power off the tee en route to victory at The Players and that can propel him to victory at Augusta National.

It was wonderful to watch Rory McIlroy back at his very best at The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass last month. He was driving the ball as well as anyone I have ever seen.

His tee-shot on 18 in the final round was simply out of this world. It was one of the best shots I’ve seen on such an intimidating hole. When Rory is at the top of his form, he can match anyone, and he’s got the sort of game that suits Augusta National. He’s finished in the top ten of his last five appearances at The Masters, coming agonisingly close to claiming a career Grand Slam of all four Majors, following his victories in the US Open Championship, US PGA Championship and The Open.

It’s been a long time since anyone joined the Grand Slam club when Tiger Woods achieved the feat back in 2000 at The Open Championship at St. Andrews, beating Ernie Els and Thomas Bjørn by the amazing margin of eight shots, before later creating his own ‘Tiger Slam’ of owning all four Majors at the same time with victory at the following year’s Masters.

When Rory won The Open Championship and the US PGA Championship in the same year – 2014 – we were heralding the ‘New Tiger.’ But for one reason or another, no Majors have followed. Now, five years on, McIlroy again has the chance to complete the Grand Slam at The Masters and he is well placed, given his red-hot start to the campaign. I’ve always rated Rory highly, and often predicted he could carry the game forward by appealing to the younger generations.

If he can produce the sort of form he showed at The Players, he can go on to conquer Augusta National and use it as a springboard to add more Major titles to his name.

Larger-than-life Bob Parsons

Last month I had the pleasure of joining Bob Parsons for two days at his PXG headquarters at Scottsdale National, Arizona. It turned out to be an almost unreal experience. The former US Marine is a larger-than-life character and a natural winner.

The Xtreme Dark finish on the irons he produces certainly shows he’s serious about his brand and the black Diamond-like Carbon coating is an expensive process that is estimated to cost $100 per iron!

The result is not just an engineering masterpiece, but a practical one. The clubs’ finish blocks out the glare of the sun when you try to line up the top edge of your iron – ideal for you guys in the UAE, especially when playing out of bunkers.

Bob’s a dynamic and personable individual who laughs and jokes about everything, but he’s a good businessman and he’s very knowledgeable about the ever-changing world of golf club manufacturing.

He’s got two 18-hole courses at Scottsdale but it was his challenging and brilliant ‘Bad Little Nine’ 9-hole par-3 course that tested my short game like nothing else.

It’s an impossible challenge to make par and it’s easy to see why hardly anyone has broken par over the nine holes and that includes some his staff players such as Zach Johnson, who has one of the best short games around.

While I was there,  I must have hit all of their latest clubs but I was impressed with their putters. Lately my putting has been nothing better than ordinary but the new PXG putter I’m now using has made a big difference.

There is no better feeling in golf than draining a tricky putt and there is no worse feeling than missing a gimme!

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