McIlroy: “It’s been a season of exploration and learning”

Fatiha Betscher
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McIlroy: “It’s been a season of exploration and learning”

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has returned to the European Tour for this week’s season-ending DP World Tour Championship declaring it has been a year of ‘exploration and learning’.

McIlroy will tee-up this week a two-time former winner of the Tour’s final event lying 20th on the Race to Dubai money list and looking also to win for a third time this year after win No. 19 and No. 20 on the PGA Tour.

Rory McIlroy – Photo by @TourMiss

The present World No. 8 competed in Tuesday morning’s DP World Pro-Am and afterwards spoke of what he realised post the disappointment of the Ryder Cup to bounce back to win the CJ Cup in Las Vegas.

“When you become quite consumed with technique you start to lose .. I am a very visual person and I think I got out of that mindset,” he said. “I looked at the ball, looked at my target and I would take a swing to have my ball go to that target but I wasn’t seeing what I wanted to do with the ball.

“Two weeks after the Ryder Cup every shot I hit on the range … It’s easy on the range to hit a ball, rack another ball and hit that and keep doing that.  So, I became very disciplined in that before I hit a practice ball, I stood back and visualised what I wanted to do with that shot.  I then hit the shot and see what I wanted to do and let my body react to what I saw.

“So, that was very important to me and I guess, it brought a little more natural-ness into my game. There was sometimes I was getting a little bored with what I was trying to do, and that’s just me getting inside my own head a little bit too much and not being able to separate the two. Being more visual and seeing more shots is something that I have done really, really well as I got away from that and I just needed to get back to doing it more.”

McIlroy will have played 10 European Tour sanctioned events this year and not counting last year’s Covid-19 hit season, it will be the least he’s played under the European Tour banner since his first full season in 2008. Though when you add in eight ‘regular’ PGA Tour events that’s 18 on both sides of ‘The Pond’ plus there was the Olympic Games in Japan along with the Ryder Cup. He will end a 14th season in the pro ranks at next month’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.

He was asked if he could rate his season and stated:  “I’d rate it A, A+ for effort as I have worked hard this year. Some of that effort was flitted away in terms of working on things and not feeling like I was getting anywhere and banging my head against the wall. I did feel I made a breakthrough a few weeks ago with the win in Vegas.

“That is the thing, as I look back and feel disappointed with my year and then I realise I have won twice in the States. I played some good golf at Torrey Pines to be tied for the lead with nine holes to play at the US Open, so there has been some good stuff in there and I feel like my game has turned a corner.

“I think I was struggling with self-belief before Vegas and then leaving there with a win and playing the way I played, I felt I got a lot of confidence in winning the CJ Cup which was great.”

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