McIlroy kicked off his 2012 season in late January at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, where he played with Tiger Woods for the first three rounds. It was the first time he had been paired with Woods in his career, and it foreshadowed several more meetings later in the year. McIlroy finished second behind eventual champion Robert Rock.
2 of 17Stan Badz / Getty Images
McIlroy narrowly missed his first victory of the season when he fell to Hunter Mahan in the final match at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
3 of 17David Walberg / SI
McIlroy fended off Tiger Woods at the Honda Classic in March for his first win of the season. He also took over the No. 1 ranking for the first time in his career.
4 of 17Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images
A week later, in his first event as the top-ranked player in the world, McIlroy finished third at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral.
5 of 17Fred Vuich / SI
McIlroy entered the Masters as one of the favorites, but he struggled all week and finished tied for 40th.
6 of 17Streeter Lecka / Getty Images
McIlroy lost to Rickie Fowler as part of a three-man playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship in May. Fowler birdied the first hole of sudden death for his first career PGA Tour title.
7 of 17Charlie Riedel / AP
After running away with the 2011 U.S. Open, McIlroy flopped in his title defense, shooting 77-73 to miss the cut at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
8 of 17Glyn Kirk / Getty Images
At the British Open, McIlroy again failed to seriously contend. He made the cut but tied for 60th at Royal Lytham & St. Annes.
9 of 17Fred Vuich / SI
McIlroy put his struggles at the majors behind him at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. He won by eight shots for his second career major title.
10 of 17Stan Badz / Getty Images
On the first weekend of September, McIlroy fended off Louis Oosthuizen in the final group at the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second tournament in the FedEx Cup playoffs. It was his third victory of the season.
11 of 17Warren Little / Getty Images
Woods and McIlroy were in lockstep for much of the fall season. They played rounds together at the Barclays, the BMW Championship (pictured) and the Tour Championship.
12 of 17Charles Rex Arbogast / AP
McIlroy won his second straight title, and third in four events, by taking the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick, the third event in the four-leg FedEx Cup playoffs.
13 of 17Robert Beck / SI
McIlroy took at bow on the 17th green at Medinah after beating Keegan Bradley, 2 and 1, in Sunday singles at the Ryder Cup. McIlroy's European team completed an improbable Sunday comeback to retain the Cup.
14 of 17Warren Little / Getty Images
McIlroy and Woods met again in Turkey at the eight-man World Golf Final in October. Woods thumped McIlroy 64-70 in their stroke play match, eliminating McIlroy from the competition.
15 of 17David Gray / Reuters
McIlroy and Woods came together again at an exhibition match in China. This time, McIlroy prevailed, 67-68.
16 of 17David Gray / Reuters
The match in China had several scenes not normally found on the course, including a jewelry model on the 12th tee.
17 of 17Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images
Rory McIlroy put an exclamation point on his historic 2012 season with a two-shot win over Justin Rose at the Dubai World Championship. It was McIlroy's fifth win of the year, and since winning his second major title at the PGA Championship in August, McIlroy added three wins and three other top-10 finishes in eight events.
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