Noth­ing to prove, says McIl­roy as he tries to end ma­jor drought

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Rory McIl­roy says he has noth­ing to prove this week as he chases his first ma­jor ti­tle in three years on a Quail Hol­low lay­out where he has two wins and the course record. The world num­ber four will be a fa­vorite when the 99th PGA Cham­pi­onship tees off to­day even though the 28-year-old from North­ern Ire­land hasn’t won since last Septem­ber’s US PGA Tour Cham­pi­onship.

“I’m not putting that much pres­sure on my­self. I don’t feel like I need to prove any­thing to any­one,” McIl­roy said Tues­day. “I never lost faith. I’ve al­ways be­lieved in my own abil­i­ties. I still do.” It was a con­trast from how four-time ma­jor win­ner McIl­roy felt in 2015, when he fired a third-round 71 to break his own course record on the way to vic­tory while world num­ber one, say­ing he needed to show how well he could play.

“I def­i­nitely don’t want to be in the mind-set this week of want­ing to make any type of state­ment or go out and prove my­self. I’m past that point,” McIl­roy said. “I’ve proven my­self enough over the last nine years of my ca­reer.

“Ob­vi­ously I wouldn’t have won as much as I would have liked this year, and there’s been a few com­po­nents to that, in­jury­wise, chang­ing equip­ment and stuff. It has been a bit of a tran­si­tional year. But I feel like ev­ery­thing has set­tled. I just want to go out and play my game and hope­fully that will be good enough.”

McIl­roy, the 2012 and 2014 PGA Cham­pi­onship win­ner who also took the 2011 US Open and 2014 Bri­tish Open, could be­come only the third player to win five ma­jors be­fore turn­ing 30, join­ing Jack Nick­laus and Tiger Woods.


It won’t hurt that he has played well in ma­jors in wet con­di­tions, which are ex­pected this week, and that he has a com­fort zone with Quail Hol­low de­spite changes to toughen the open­ing third of the course.

“You don’t re­ally have to have your best game and you still feel like you have a chance to win-that’s sort of how it feels here,” McIl­roy said. “For the most part, 15 of the 18 holes are the same. I just feel good around here. I don’t know what it is. I’ve got some great mem­o­ries. Once you go back to a place where you have great mem­o­ries, all that starts to come flood­ing back to you and it makes you feel good about your­self. That’s sort of how I feel around here.”

McIl­roy ad­mits he has been look­ing for­ward to this ma­jor since it was an­nounced. “This has been a week I’ve been look­ing for­ward to for a long time,” he said. “I’m glad I’m show­ing up for this week feel­ing like my game is in good shape as well.”

A poor start doomed his fight­back bid at the Bri­tish Open, but he still shared fourth at Royal Birk­dale and fol­lowed by shar­ing fifth at last week’s WGC Bridge­stone in Akron. “My form is bet­ter com­ing into this event than it was go­ing into the Open,” McIl­roy said. “I’m com­ing off the back of a cou­ple of top-5s. Things are a bit dif­fer­ent than they were a cou­ple of weeks ago.”—AFP

CHARLOTTE: Rory McIl­roy of North­ern Ire­land, chips to the 18th green dur­ing a prac­tice round at the PGA Cham­pi­onship golf tour­na­ment at the Quail Hol­low Club Tues­day, in Charlotte. — AP

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