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More likely to win the 2019 Masters – Rory McIlroy or Justin Rose?

Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy standing around and talking during a round of golf

It’s time for another matchup to determine who has a better chance to become the 2019 Masters Champion. The last article in this series compared Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth.

This time we’re focusing on the No.2 and No.3 golfers in the World Golf Rankings. Think of this one as the heavyweight fight.


In corner number one, from England, the 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose (mild golf claps).

In corner number two, hailing from Northern Ireland, 4-time major winner Rory McIlroy (crowd goes absolutely crazy).

Related: More likely to win the 2019 Masters – Dustin Johnson or Rickie Fowler?

Rory McIlroy vs Justin Rose

What an interesting matchup this is. You have Rory McIlroy as the number 3 golfer in the world and Justin Rose, the number 2. They’re playing some great golf right now and both already have a victory this year. Rose in the Farmers Insurance Open and McIlroy in the Players Championship back in March.

Rory has been more consistent in terms of his finishes so far in 2019 but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a shoe in. The only way to find out who is more likely to be the 2019 Masters Champion is to dive right in. Let’s get to it!

Rory McIlroy’s 2019 season

McIlroy has had possibly the best start to 2019 out of everyone on tour. Running through his tournaments this year, this is what we have: 4th, 5th, 4th, 2nd, 6th, 1st, and 9th. That’s right. Rory has finished in the top 10 in every event he’s participated in since the New Year.

Oh, and that 9th place finish was in a match play event where he lost in the quarterfinals to Tiger Woods. So, when counting regular stroke play events only, he has not finished outside the top 6. Try that on for size. This guy is on fire.

rory mcilroy swinging a golf club on the course

McIlroy even secured his first ever win at The Players Championship on St. Patrick’s Day. That must’ve been a huge confidence boost for the 29-year old North Irishman. Especially heading into Augusta National next week, where he’s never won.

Everything in McIlroy’s game is clicking right now. He is looking like the Rory from a few years back when it seemed like no one could beat him. McIlroy could very well be the favorite to become the 2019 Masters Champion.

Related: Rory McIlroy’s Longest Drive Ever

Rory McIlroy at the Masters

It might seem like this fight is already over from the way we talked about Rory’s 2019. Well, hold the phone here. The Masters has not been kind to Rory McIlroy.

Like Dustin Johnson he has placed well as of recently but has never made a serious charge. Since 2014, McIlroy has finished in the top 10 in all 5 tournaments, including a career best 4th place in 2015. But don’t let that fool you into thinking he has been very successful at Augusta.

Related: What’s in Rory McIlroy’s Bag?

Rory with his hand on his face in disgust at the Masters played at Augusta national golf club

Every time Rory isn’t really in it heading into the final round, he plays well and jumps up the leaderboard. Not enough to contend though. The two times McIlroy has been in the final pairing he has blown it big time.

In 2011, Rory had a four shot lead after 54 holes and collapsed during the infamous Amen Corner. A 4-putt on twelve sank his hopes at a green jacket. McIlroy posted an 80, which stands as the worst final round ever at the Masters when leading after Saturday.

He was in the final pairing last year, 3 shots back from the leader, and failed to make any sort of run. He shot a 74 and would finish 6 back, tied for 5th place.

The Masters has been the elusive major for McIlroy, preventing him from completing the career grand slam. He’s going to need to step up on Sunday if he’s in the running this year. You can’t become the 2019 Masters Champion by playing one good round of golf.

You need 4 Rory.

Justin Rose’s 2019 Season

On to the number 2 golfer in the world, Justin Rose. Rose has had a solid 2019 thus far. A win, along with 2 other top 10s have highlighted his year.

The bright spot for Rose is that he seems to be a big stage player. He won at the Farmers Insurance Open that had a deep field. He placed very well (T-8th) at the Players Championship, which is essentially the 5th major in golf.

Everything seems to be firing on all cylinders for Rose. He has also been one of the most consistent golfers over the last few years. Rose hasn’t jumped outside of the top 20 since 2011. He’s been in the top 6 for over year straight and peaked at No.1 last summer. Steady as can be.

That’s the cool, calm, and collected type of golfer that can become the 2019 Masters Champion.

Justin Rose at the Masters

This is where the heavyweight fight gets a little more interesting. Rose has performed better than Rory at the Masters. No, he hasn’t come out with a green jacket yet but Rose has seriously contended multiple times.

He has two runner-up finishes. One back in 2015, when he didn’t do anything wrong. Instead, he ran into a buzz saw named Jordan Spieth, who tied the all-time Masters scoring record that year. You can’t fault him for finishing 14-under par and still coming up 4 shots short.

jordan spieth and justin rose at the 2014 masters

Rose also lost in a playoff to Sergio Garcia in 2017. Shooting a 69 on Sunday while leading is usually good enough to host the Masters Champions Dinner. But again, he was beat out by someone who just stepped up a little bit higher than him.


Rory has the hotter start to 2019. Rose performs better at the Masters when contending and in general. At this point it could be a wash because playing at Augusta in unlike any other PGA Tour event. The incredible scenery, creative hole layout, and unique aura make it stand out over anything else.

Related: The Masters Hole-By-Hole Guide

I promise I’m not just trying to go against the grain here. I believe Justin Rose has a better shot to win at Augusta and become the 2019 Masters Champion.

Justin Rose has contended at Augusta

Rose has a better shot over Rory at the green jacket in 2019 because of his experience at Augusta. Yes, Rory’s start to the season has been phenomenal is every way. He’s won, he’s contended in basically every tournament, and he’s won on the big stage at TPC Sawgrass.

But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Masters is a different beast to conquer. Rory has never been considered a contender after Amen Corner on Sunday. This tournament is McIlroy’s white whale and I think it will remain that way for a while.

Related: The 5th Hole at Augusta just got Tougher

Justin Rose walking on the 12th green at Augusta National Golf Club during the 2017 Masters tournament

Justin Rose on the other hand has been right in the thick of it before the final round, throughout the final round, and in 2017, after the final round. Rose has won a major so he has that monkey off his back as well.

I don’t think Justin Rose can be that destined player like Jordan Spieth in 2015 or Sergio Garcia in 2017. But he doesn’t need to be. That’s why I think he has a better shot at this. All Rose needs is for there to not be a perfect storm of a player that beats him. If it is a boring Masters this year, I’d put my money on Rose over the field.

Related: Tiger Woods’ 2018 Comeback Year

Obviously that is sort of a long shot from happening though. I mean if Tiger Woods decides he’s going to contend then I’d put my money in a different place. But in terms of McIlroy vs Rose, I think it’s Rose who is more likely to earn the title of 2019 Masters Champion.


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