Rory McIlroy is one of the best-known golfers in the world, having burst into the scene after notching his first win on the European Tour in 2009, and on the PGA Tour in 2010.
McIlroy earned an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) in 2012 at the age of 22 for his services to sport.
However, he hasn’t won a major championship in roughly eight years. (He last emerged victorious at the PGA Championship in 2014, at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.)
Over a decade on, we’re taking a look at five of the best Rory McIlroy rookie cards on the market right now.
The Best Rory McIlroy Rookie Cards
We’ve put together a list with some top of the Rory McIlroy rookie cards to collect. This includes a rare option from 2011, as well as a variety of signed RCs.
5. 2014 Exquisite Collection Rory McIlroy RC #86 (eBay)
Let’s begin with a premium release that came out back in 2014. As you might have guessed, the Exquisite Collection Rory McIlroy RC will set you back by a fair amount, especially if it’s graded. (The highest of high-end, it was also the brand’s debut for the sport.)
Found in the Rookie Auto Swatch set, it contains a large patch and an on-card auto. It also has a print run of just 99, with no further parallels to chase. This is undoubtedly one of the best McIlroy cards to collect.
4. 2014 SP Game Used Rory McIlroy RC #56 (eBay)
2014 SP Game Used is up next. Another popular rookie card, this also features the combination of a patch and an on-card auto. (Of course, it’s a slight step down from the RC seen above, with a smaller swatch and a busier design.)
With a print run of 199, It should be seen as a cheaper alternative to the Exquisite Collection McIlroy RC.
3. 2011 SI for Kids Rory McIlroy RC #83 (eBay)
What’s better than the original? This Rory McIlroy rookie card came with the November 2011 issue of Sports Illustrated for Kids, on a sheet of nine. It’s perforated as a consequence, and tough to locate in pristine condition.
The 2011 Sports Illustrated for Kids Rory McIlroy RC might not have an auto, but it’s still one of the first collectibles to feature the golfer. It also works out to be one of the more affordable options when graded.
2. 2014 SP Authentic Rory McIlroy RC Auto /299 #100 (eBay)
The 2014 SP Authentic collection includes the first base set Rory McIllroy rookie cards.
We’re looking at the Authentic Rookie Signatures set, which came in two tiers. (McIllroy is found in Level 2, which means his auto has a print run of 299.)
This Rory McIlroy rookie card auto is a popular option with collectors who prefer cleaner cards, benefiting from a timeless design, and a large space for the signature. As with the others, it features a simple shot of the golfer after taking a swing.
1. 2013 Metal Universe Rory McIlroy RC #E-RM (eBay)
A hyper-rare McIlroy RC, 2013 Metal Universe has an employee exclusive set. These iconic PMG cards retain the original 1990’s design but introduce a new purple parallel. It’s going to be tough to locate, with a measly print run of just 125. It’s hard to think of a card with better investment potential.
Rory McIlroy Rookie Cards: Buyers Guide
Rory McIlroy rookie cards were released a while ago, even if he’s still only 33. Should they be seen as a viable investment option?
Ungraded cards are probably your best bet, although base versions are a cheaper entry point than most. The 2011 SI card is one of the more affordable options even if it’s wrapped in a graded slab.
We’d go for one of the signed Rory McIlroy rookie cards if you want the most bang for your buck. The 2013 Metal Universe card is another great option, if you’re able to locate the rare release.
The Best Rory McIlroy Rookie Cards: Final Thoughts
We picked up the Rory McIlroy rookie cards seen in the intro image during the midway point of 2021, which was during the height of the recent card collecting craze. Regardless, they’d still sell for more a year later, likely due to his improved form.
McIlroy has recently risen to No. 2 in the world ranking, which is his highest ranking in two years.
This is after fine form which includes finishing as runner-up at the Masters, fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship, eighth at the PGA Championship, T-18 at the Memorial, a win at the RBC Canadian Open and a T-5 at the 2022 U.S. Open.
At this rate, it could be a matter of time before he picks up an elusive fifth major championship. It would certainly have an impact on his best rookie cards, which is something all collectors are hoping for.