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Feature on Rory Mcilroy

The year 2012 just doesn't seem that long ago until you really consider what's gone on in the career of a player like Rory McIlroy in that time period.

In his first five events of 2012, McIlroy had one win - the Honda Classic - two runner-up slots and a third-place finish.

He would add two more top 10 finishes that summer before taking the PGA Championship in dominant fashion, adding victories in the Deutsche Bank Championship and the BMW Championship during the FedEx Cup playoffs and also emerging victorious at the Ryder Cup.

He also finished in the Top 10 in five of the seven events he participated in on the European Tour.

Tiger Woods? Shmiger Woods. In 2012, McIlroy was golf. And he was 21 and 22 years old during the entire ride.

The 2013 season presented something quite unexpected to the phenom from Northern Ireland: the reality of professional.

For every great year, you're likely to have one just as bad, unless you're in the upper 0.01%.

After a tie for 33rd at Accenture, McIlroy showed his ugly side, withdrawing from The Honda Classic during the second round after two miserable holes in a row, walking straight off the course and to his car in the parking lot, shocking his fellow golfers and the media, and disappointing many who can come to see the defending champion play.

He bounced back the next week to finish eighth at the Cadillac Championship, but fell into a pattern that the majority of golfers know all too well - up and down, up and down, up and down.

He was 45th at the Shell Houston Open, the finished second at the Valero Texas Open.

Twenty-fifth at the Masters, then eighth at The Players. Forty-first at the US Open, then eighth at the PGA.

At the end of the PGA season, he was a total non-factor in the FedEx Cup one year after winning two legs of it. In 2013, he barely made the cut to get in.

The Euro Tour provided more of the same, although he did win the DP World Tour Championship; he missed three other cuts.

McIlroy has looked a lot more like his 2012 self than his 2013 incarnation of late. He has two top 10 finishes on the Euro Tour and two more since the PGA season began.

He was sensational for the most part at the Honda Classic, firing a trio of 63-66-69 in the first three rounds before coming unhinged on Sunday.

But that's just another less for the man who still won't turn 25 for another two months.

Once you've proven yourself a winner in any sport, but particularly golf, everyone else starts gunning for you, putting a target on your back and playing their best when you're in the quartet or the threesome, simply to say they gave their best against the best.

Thanks to his marvelous 2012, McIlroy will spend the rest of his career trying to prove that he's up to that challenge.

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