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Major undertaking in '13 for McIlroy

1/3/2013 - Golf Rory McIlroy

He's No. 1 in the world by a large margin. He's won majors in each of the past two years. So what's next up for boy wonder Rory McIlroy? Our scribes break down that topic and more in a special edition of Four-Ball.


1. Over/under: Rory McIlroy will have five worldwide victories in 2013.

Michael Collins, ESPN.com senior golf analyst: Over. He's going to have five on the PGA Tour. He'll have eight worldwide. He wants to be better than Tiger and this year he's going to take a big leap toward him.

Farrell Evans, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Under. McIlroy will win three times.

Bob Harig, ESPN.com senior golf writer: Under. I'm sticking with my prediction that Rory will win four times, which even though it is one fewer victory than 2012 is still an impressive achievement.

Kevin Maguire, ESPN.com senior golf editor: Over. Six or seven is more likely, especially once he gets settled into his new equipment and irons out any lingering issues on that front.


2. How many majors will Rory McIlroy win in 2013?

Michael Collins: Two. He'll win the Masters and the Open Championship. That will give him the career Grand Slam but he'll have done it in three consecutive years. Check the list to see how many have ever done that. Go on, check it!

Farrell Evans: In 2013, McIlroy will complete the career Grand Slam by taking both the Masters and the Open Championship.

Bob Harig: One. He has had his ups and down at Augusta National the past two years, but he was nine holes away from winning the Masters in 2011 -- and is a far more advanced player now.

Kevin Maguire: One. Many might think he'll take home his first green jacket come April, but I believe he'll tick off the third leg of the career Grand Slam with a victory at Muirfield in the Open Championship despite links golf not overly suiting his aerial game.


3. Fact or fiction: Rory McIlroy's new equipment deal will negatively impact his 2013 season.

Michael Collins: Fiction. If there's one guy out there who could work hard enough in the "offseason" to get it all dialed in correctly, it's Rory. If he finds the right golf ball early in the year, then it's game, set, match for another player of the year award for him.

Farrell Evans: Fiction. Nothing short of a return to a persimmon head driver and a balata ball could keep McIlroy from continuing his dominant play.

Bob Harig: Fiction. McIlroy has had plenty of time to sort out the various equipment issues that go along with such a change. Who knows if he will even be required to carry all of the new equipment company's stuff? The feeling here is he'll be fine.

Kevin Maguire: Fiction. I suspect the first month or two of the season will be a little iffy for the Northern Irishman, but he's too pure of a talent -- and the equipment is too solid -- for him to struggle for long.


4. Which major venue sets up best for McIlroy in 2013?

Michael Collins: The Masters is the best setup for him. He'll get redemption for what happened in 2011. He's over the disappointment now and is ready to take that course to task.

Farrell Evans: Augusta National. He can draw the driver and destroy the par-5s on a course that doesn't demand accuracy off the tee.

Bob Harig: Muirfield. This first assumes that Augusta National will always suit McIlroy. But Muirfield is different from the other links in the Open rotation in that it basically has two nine-hole loops with wind different on nearly every hole. McIlroy has struggled the past two years at the Open and you can bet he will work hard to get that straightened out in 2013.

Kevin Maguire: Even though I don't think he'll win there, at least this year, Augusta National fits Rory McIlroy like a glove. Once he gets a few more years of experience on those greens, he will officially have plans every April in northeast Georgia for the next 40 years.