He may have been beaten by good friend Shane Lowry but Rory McIlroy was more motivated than ever last Sunday to go out and perform at the DP World Tour’s flagship event.
It wasn’t lost on McIlroy that at one stage on the final day of the shortened 54-hole tournament that Patrick Reed had swept to the front at Wentworth.
It was never likely, given favourable placing conditions, that the American’s score would hold out but McIlroy was determined to ensure it wouldn’t, not least having been perhaps the most vocal critic of LIV Golf, going as far as to say “it turned his stomach” that certain players like Reed were teeing up last week in Surrey.
“The leaderboard at Wentworth last week at about 2.00pm on Sunday was looking pretty grim if you were in a position that I hold, and that probably gave me some extra motivation and a few other guys on the leaderboard to get past that 14-under mark,” said McIlroy ahead of this week’s Italian Open.
“It’s a weird time in golf, and hopefully over the next couple years we can resolve it in some sort of way.
“But right now, look, I’m a golfer. I play golf. I maybe put myself in a conversation too much at times. But I can’t help myself because I feel strongly about it.
“But it’s up to the powers that be to try to come to some sort of, not resolution, I don’t think that’s the right word but a strategy going forward so that the game can drive at the highest level.”
And McIlroy’s right – he is a golfer, the second best ranked player in the world off the back of his FedEx Cup win and while his Major drought continues, McIlroy has no doubt that on his day he’s still the best of the bunch, and he’s determined to show it.
“I believe when I play the golf that I’m capable of that I’m the best player in the world, and I think a lot of people in my position at the top of the game believe that, also,” he added.
“I definitely feel like Bob Rotella has maybe helped me unlock a couple of things within my game that were maybe lacking for the last couple of years. So working with Bob again has been a lot of fun. You know, he’s a great man, a wonderful character. I love talking to him, even if we don’t really talk about golf that much, you’re always going to learn something. He’s got so many incredible stories, and I definitely think he’s helped me bring more of like a relaxed focus to my game that I maybe didn’t have for the last couple of years.
“Bob has been a big part of this year and why I’ve played so well, along with the rest of my team. Everyone plays their part and everyone helps me be the best version of myself, I guess, and you know, it’s been a great year so far, and I said it last week at Wentworth, I want to continue to have a great year and finish this season off on a high.”
As the current leader on the Race to Dubai standings, who’d bet against McIlroy becoming the first man to successfully win the Order of Merit on both the PGA and European Tours in the same year?
THURSDAY’S IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
- 7.30am – Rory McIlroy
- 8.10am – Jonathan Caldwell
- 11.10am – Paul Dunne
- 11.50am – Cormac Sharvin
- Full tee-times HERE