Rory McIlroy is hoping to convert his impressive recent form into a second successive World Golf Championships victory at the WGC-Mexico Championship, where Jon Rahm is aiming to depose the Northern Irishman at the top of Official World Golf Ranking.
McIlroy claimed his third World Golf Championships title at the WGC-HSBC Champions last November and has picked up three consecutive top five finishes since – a purple patch which helped him overtake Brooks Koepka to return to the World Number One spot for the first time since 2015.
This week, he tied Nick Faldo in third place on the list of players with most cumulative weeks at the top of the World Rankings on 97 and another week would move him to outright third position, behind only Tiger Woods (683) and Greg Norman (331).
“It’s good to be back in Mexico. I’ve played well here the last couple of times I’ve played,” said McIlroy.
“DJ (Dustin Johnson) was just sort of too good for all of us last year – I played in the final group with him – but it’s good to be back.
“I’ve always felt like I played well at altitude. I’ve played well here. I’ve played well over in Europe and Switzerland a couple of times. I feel like I adjust pretty well to it, and that’s really what it’s all about. That’s what it’s all about this week, just trying to adjust and trust your numbers and make sure you know how far the ball is going. That’s really it.”
While all eyes will be on McIlroy at Augusta in April when he takes on his bid to complete the career Grand Slam, this week McIlroy hopes to complete a different set and tick off the one missing WGC event from his impressive jigsaw of titles.
“I feel like this tournament has gone from strength to strength the last few years, and I obviously would love to add it to the list of winners here,” he added.
“That would be pretty cool, to have won all of the World Golf Championships. WGCs are big events, with the top players in the world, and I’ve always played pretty well in them. I had a chance when this was played in Doral a few years ago, or a couple of chances, and obviously I’ve played okay here.
“To complete the set would be nice. Those wedgewood trophies look pretty good in the trophy case, so I’d like to add one more there.”
Rahm, however, could move to the top spot for the first time in his career. The Spaniard – who received the Seve Ballesteros Award as the 2019 European Tour Players’ Player of the Year ahead of the opening day of the WGC-Mexico Championship – would need a win if he is to have any chance of doing so this week.
“It’s always nice to come to a country where they speak Spanish,” said Rahm. “The culture is a lot more similar to what it is in Spain. There’s good food, good hospitality and a good golf course. It doesn’t really get much better than this.
“My perspective hasn’t changed at all this week, honestly. I’m here to win a tournament. That’s what I’m here to do.
“I’m hoping for the rest of the year, it’s going to be like that where at some point I’m going to win or have a good performance and get to Number One in the world, but the main goal is to win championships, win tournaments, and play my best every week I can.
“Those rankings are basically a consequence of what I do on the golf course, so I’ve got to take care of business first.”