But the 30-year-old's wait for a fifth major now stands at five years, dating back to his triumph at the 2014 PGA Championship. Or anybody else, for that matter.
"I think length is a huge advantage here; obviously you've seen that with Justin Thomas winning, Brooks Koepka winning", said another one of the TOUR's big hitters, Gary Woodland, who was runner-up to Koepka past year. "So I just don't view it as a rivalry", Koepka told AFP ahead of his defence of the CJ Cup in Jeju, South Korea which begins on Thursday.
Viktor Hovland is making his transition to the PGA Tour look extremely easy.
"Eight under, bogey free is always good. everything was going at the flag the ideal distance and obviously I holed a lot of putts today, so everything just clicked and I shot bogey free".
That actually is not true. Both have won four majors, with Koepka winning this year's USPGA Championship.
Koepka wasn't anxious about losing to McIlroy, though. He won the event past year by four strokes.
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Four weeks earlier, Koepka had comprehensively outplayed McIlroy to win the World Golf Championship event in Memphis and the Northern Irishman said that he had been determined to avenge that defeat in the PGA Tour finale. McIlroy won the Players Championship, Canadian Open and Tour Championship.
"To play like that alongside Brooks, get the win, win the FedEx Cup, it's awesome".
Defending champion Brooks Koepka shot a 69 with an eagle on the 18th, his final hole, Last year's runner-up Gary Woodland had a 71. He finished in the top five in the last five majors, including all four in 2019. He hasn't finished any worse than tied 12th in any of his last seven outings and his fourth-place finish at the Safeway Open last time out has kept him ticking over nicely.
"The long game, I know it's been off", he said with a refreshing honesty. I'm not looking in the rearview mirror, so I don't see it as a rivalry.
"If the fans do then that's on them and it could be fun".