Rory McIlroy was back at Sawgrass this week, the scene of his first of four wins in 2019, and he was his usual chatty, fascinating self ahead of his 13th full season as a pro.
The 30-year-old played twice in December, once at Jack Nicklaus’ charity event and the other with his dad, Gerry, at Seminole, before revisiting Ashford Castle in Ireland where he got married in 2017.
But then it was back to work as he looks to add his four majors, the last of which came incredibly at the PGA in August 2014.
“I just switched off, which was nice,” McIlroy said. “Once I got back to the States on New Year’s Day, I got the clubs out of the closet and started to practise. Previously some years I’ve tried to be too perfect, I’ve tried to do stuff with my swing.
“Now, for the last week I haven’t seen my swing on camera once and I’m almost hesitant to see it because I’m hitting it good and I’m feeling good. Everyone thinks that I’m a feel player but there’s a lot of technical stuff that can get in there, too. I really want to play with as much feel as possible.”
McIlroy spoke plenty last year about having more perspective and patience and trying to remain on an even keel and it’s the scoring side that pleased him the most from a year where he picked up not only the Players but also wins in Canada, the Tour Championship before the WGC victory in China.
“I think the ability to keep momentum going during a round [pleased me most] and that’s mostly to do with short game, missing a green, getting up and down and holing that crucial putt and not focusing so much on the technical side of the game. Not looking at my swing as much on the camera, a lot of that stuff has really helped.”
And as he prepares for his first start of 2020 at Torrey Pines with his long-time coach Michael Bannon set to join him in Florida, McIlroy reiterated that his best years are still to come. He might, officially, be the second best player on the planet but, in his head, things are a little different.
“I believe on my day I’m the best player in the world and I think I can do that for a long time.
“For the foreseeable future, I feel like I can be the best player in the world and I want to make the most of that. I think with all the experience that I have and what I’ve learned over these past 10 years, I think I can make the next 10 even better.”
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