Can Rory McIlroy Win 50 Titles in His Career?

Rory McIlroy, 2023 Genesis Scottish Open,(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy, 2023 Genesis Scottish Open,(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Rory McIlroy just won his 24th PGA Tour event at the Genesis Scottish Open. He’s now reached the higher echelons of professional golf, tied with Gary Player and Dustin Johnson in titles. No one in Europe is surprised by this. They believed he would become one of the best golfers ever.

However, McIlroy also has another 17 victories on the DP World Tour, so you could quickly say he’s already to 41, so 50 is almost a slam dunk. But we have to do some subtraction. The reason is that some tournaments count on both tours, like the Genesis, which he just won, and the British Open, which he won in 2014.  Four of his tournaments are recognized by both the PGA Tour and the DP World Tour, meaning he has 37 already on both tours. He needs a lucky 13 more to reach 50 PGA Tour and DP World Tour titles, combined.

At age 34, McIlroy is now in what used to be considered the “prime” of a golfer’s career, but that’s because they usually started at age 22, if they were lucky enough to get through qualifying school, or whatever the process was at the time, and they often struggled for the first few seasons. Not so with many of today’s stars.

Today’s best players often leave college early, or like many of the European players, don’t go to college at all, like McIlroy.  He turned professional at age 18, and, by that time, he had already played in several professional events as an amateur. Like many of today’s household golf names, he started winning relatively quickly.

"If it’s a total of 50 victories on both tours, you’d think he would be able to do that sometime in the next five years."

Rory McIlroy turned professional in 2007 and had his first victory at the Dubai Desert Classic in 2009 where he beat Justin Rose.  If that wasn’t a clue to what was coming, his victory at the Wells Fargo in 2010, beating Phil Mickelson, should have been.

But back to McIlroy’s chances for 50 victories. Can he or can’t he?

If it’s a total of 50 victories on both tours, you’d think he would be able to do that sometime in the next five years. Certainly, it’s achievable for him, based on his past performance.  It’s 13 tournaments more.  For someone who has won between two and four tournaments many years, it should not be, as they say, a big ask. He thinks he should win that many, so when he doesn’t, he’s going to be disappointed in his performance.

But golf, like life, is funny. Things happen. Like LIV Golf. Once Rory McIlroy got involved in the LIV conversation, his winning ways seemed to slow a little, then pick up, then slow, and now it’s picking up again. It was a big distraction. But he said he’s put all that aside for now, and voila, another victory, No. 24.

What is likely is McIlroy reaching 40 victories on the PGA Tour before he’s 40, at least if he continues to perform at a rate that he has in recent seasons. That means he would have to win 16 more times.

A total of 40 PGA Tour victories is a real achievement. Only eight golfers in history have at least that many titles, and only one of them is actively playing.  Just three are still alive, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson. Mickelson is suspended from the PGA tour, so he has no chance to add to his total until he’s 54 or 55, and the chances of a victory then are lower than his miracle win at the PGA at 50.

The others who have won 40 or more PGA Tour events are Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson, Billy Casper, Walter Hagen, and, of course, Tiger Woods.  So, you can see the kind of legendary territory McIlroy has in front of him. That would be enough to scare anybody.

To get to 40 PGA Tour victories, Rory McIlroy would have to pass Johnny Miller with 25,

Lee Trevino with 29, Vijay Singh with 34, and Tom Watson with 39.

Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Phil Mickelson, PGA Tour, DP World Tour
Tom Watson, 2023 Masters Tournament, Syndication: The Augusta Chronicle /

If Rory McIlroy added his European Tour titles…

He would be well over 60, combining tours, in his career. Seve Ballesteros, the winningest player ever in Europe, won 50 times there. Bernhard Langer, who just won his 45th on the PGA Tour Champions, has 42 European titles. That’s 87 in all, which is more than amazing.

Let’s look ahead to see who McIlroy would have to pass next to get 50 victories. Of golfers who are still alive, when he gets to 25 PGA Tour victories, he ties Johnny Miller.  When he gets to 29, he’s even with Lee Trevino.  At the 34-victory mark, he ties Vijay Singh. At 39, he’s even with Tom Watson.

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So as good as Rory McIlroy is, and his is the kind of career that is absolutely historic, it’s likely that he has even more success in front of him. How many more victories?  We don’t know.  When he has three more victories, he gets to 40 combined on both tours.

So, if you are a McIlroy fan, get ready to break out the champagne or maybe the Guinness sometime in 2024 to celebrate that mark. And 50? Can it really be far behind?