But McIlroy proved what he's been preaching for months with the type of gritty performance that transcends the foolishness of instant analysis.
McIlroy missed the cut in his first three appearances.
Tiger Woods's 72 left him rather making up the numbers at three under.
Even in the microcosm of Sunday's blustery final round, his resolve was every bit as unshakable as that powerful swing. "So it was one of those days".
The Players Championship purse is a record-setting $12.5 million, the largest in the history of the PGA Tour. Consider Sunday's free-for-all just a happy bonus.
The Northern Irishman had dropped back to 14 under after a bogey on the 14th but birdies on the 15th and 16th took him past Furyk, and he nervelessly secured the win on St Patrick's Day with closing pars by avoiding water on the unsafe final two holes.
Added to that drama, or perhaps because of it, the cold, northern winds finally arrived for the final round.
How would you even hit that green with a 6-iron? He says his attitude has been good all year, and it can be tested severely on the Players Stadium Course.
McIlroy certainly had his share of adventures at TPC Sawgrass but as he approached the 16th green, where a 20-footer for eagle awaited, he stole a glance at the American flag high atop the TV tower behind No. 17.
Two putts later he had his first Players title.
McIlroy muffed a chip and had to scramble for bogey on the opening hole, hit a chip over the green on the par-five second hole and turned potential birdie into bogey, and that was as bad as it got.
"That gives me confidence going forward".
McIlroy was having none of it, focusing instead on the simplest of terms.
McIlroy's win is his 15th PGA Tour title
"It means everything. This is one of the tournaments I desperately wanted to put on my CV. I felt like if I stayed patient enough things would work out for me and I'm glad they have".
And what swings they were. He hit the right shot on the par-three 13th, with the pin below a ridge near the water, into three feet for another birdie.
As he walked down the final fairway, hands stuffed deep in his pockets to ward off the cold, McIlroy remained uncharacteristically subdued.
That would be Phil Mickelson, who didn't play very inspired, at all. This was a man with a singular goal. "Everything was in a really good place, and that's why I was just preaching patience, and it was just a matter of time". "It's just another step in the journey", said McIlroy, who closed with a 2-under 70.
In 2011, he skipped the tournament altogether - a decision he later said he regretted - before posting three top-10s the past five years. He's avoided reading stories about himself and steered clear of social media, but all along he knew it was there.
"A shot here, a shot there, maybe could have been a little different", Furyk said.
Some of the most entertaining moments came from everyone else.
No, that's not McIlroy's style.
On a day where remarkable shots and magical putts were the norm, McIlroy sealed the victory with a pair of solid plays. He admitted that he and the TPC Sawgrass didn't always have the "greatest relationship" and that this milestone was far from easy given Sunday's conditions and the fluid leaderboard.
His putting looked as good as it has ever been, and his chipping, bunker play and driving are just spectacular. Nothing more, nothing less.
"I feel like I'm playing some of the best golf of my life right now and I just need to keep doing the same things", he told Sky Sports. I get that it can take five hours to play out there, but it shouldn't take any over that.
"I've been working so hard on the mental aspect of my game, trying to keep myself in check a little more", said Rahm, the 24-year-old Spaniard so full of passion.