The four-times major winner tells Ewan Murray of the empathy he feels for Tiger Woods and his own preparations for the Master in April after regaining from a rib injury
It would have seemed unfathomable in 2014, when Rory McIlroy was celebrating victory at the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, that his haul of four majors would remain unchanged in 2017. It is still a source of general bemusement. As he contemplates his return from a rib trauma at next weeks World Golf Championship in Mexico, McIlroy makes it clear his competitive flame has never burned more intensely.
I want to be the best golfer in the world, he says. I want to be ranked the best golfer in the world. I want everyone to think Im the best golfer in the world.
There is nothing like that impression of winning a major. I won the FedEx Cup last year and that was great, as was being part of the Ryder Cup the following week, but for me winning a major? “Were not receiving” greater feeling in golf.
Knowing you are writing your name into history books where nobody can take that away from you, or having your name on those famous trophies. Thats the thing that really get me going and I havent felt that for a while. I want to have that feeling again.
Thats not to do with ego or me trying to say: Im the best. Its about the blis and adrenaline rushing you get. Ive had a lot of spare time over the last few weeks and I watched Congressional [ where he won the 2011 US Open ] back, I watched Valhalla back. Being in the hot of the combat, get that hurry, thats the thing that gets me going. I havent had that for a while and I want it back.
Golf was different for McIlroy then. He had won the BMW PGA Championship in May and the Open in July. He brushes aside the suggestion that this run made it virtually inevitable he would win at Valhalla. Yes, I was building majors appear not routine but Id won four in four years, he says. I havent won in a couple of years but the greatest players in video games have gone through stretchings of no majors in a couple of years.
Jack Nicklaus went through a stretch from 1967 to 1970. Tiger won 14 of them from 1997 to 2008, but thats not normal. That is so far from the norm. I was averaging one a year over a four-year stretch which was fantastic and I could do it again; Im 27, say I go on that operate again, four majors by 31.
All of a sudden, eight majors aged 31 and you are feeling OK about yourself. You merely have to trust the process.
This is a long career. Ive insured it in society with this generation. People have become exceedingly impatient and I get that way myself sometimes. My day is going to come again when things fall my style and I win a few more. Im confident of that. You cant force the issue.