It’s a little early for this kind of thing but since the world’s two biggest professional golf tours can’t figure out what year it is, let’s go ahead and get this out there: Rory McIlroy will be next year’s (this year’s?) Comeback Player of the Year. Now that he’s won the Australian Open, this is more nomination than prediction. Granted, it’s tough for a world No. 6 to win Most Improved. But to get where he is from where he was and – more importantly, where he will be – is a long, cobbled-up path. No doubt, he feels that way. When he holed a 12-foot putt for birdie on the 72nd hole to steal the Aussie Open from Adam Scott, there was no jubilation. He blew a long, slow breath from two puffed cheeks, thereby cutting loose the boulder that’s been hanging around his neck for the past 12 months. If McIlroy isn’t completely back, he’s well on his way and making good time, at that. He’s 24 – and after this year, an old 24 – with two major championships and a golf game and a personal life closely examined under the microscope. A victory of any kind was more than welcome and this one couldn’t have been timed better. “What’s more satisfying is that I took a great player like Adam Scott down the stretch and got the win,” he said. Let’s hope, for golf’s sake, that Sunday’s show- down was a preview of coming attractions. This year (last year?) was lost in the ether for McIlroy, who is a former No. 1 player in the world – with a bullet. He was a hot mess for most of 2013, making piles of money and jetting all over the world, chasing a hot girlfriend after finishing T56 or somesuch. By the middle of the season, he looked worn and world-weary.