McIlroy: I've to start winning again to stay on top of world
Having returned to World No 1 without hitting a ball, Rory McIlroy is determined stay there by winning tournaments.
The Holywood ace is back on top of the rankings after the man who recently replaced him, Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth, missed the cut at The Barclays.
But McIlroy, who won two Majors last year, knows Spieth and US PGA champion Jason Day are right behind him heading into the Deutsche Bank Open at TPC Boston, starting today.
"I feel I am holding this ranking based on what I did last year," said McIlroy, "but hopefully I can get another couple of wins before the end of the year and I feel I am playing well enough to do that."
Day is now the game's form player having followed up his PGA success by winning The Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup play-off series.
McIlroy feels there's little to choose between them and believes the competition will force standards higher. Any of the three could be number one by the end of the week's events in Boston.
"I feel we are pretty close. I feel the level I played at last year, they saw that and attained that," he explained.
"It is about trying to set that bar a bit higher each year. That is probably what we will see over the next few years if guys keep pushing each other."
McIlroy is still easing himself back after the ankle ligament injury suffered playing football with friends in the summer that cost him the chance of defending his British Open title.
The 26-year-old said: "I had a couple of weeks off after the PGA, just taking it nice and slowly and being patient with it. But I am excited to be back and feel my game is in good shape."
Spieth had also been leading the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup standings prior to last week's rare failure. Day has now taken that place from him but Spieth says he is not motivated by any rivalry with the Australian or McIlroy.
"We are all focused on our own goals. As one, two and three in the world we are the three who have to beat each other right now in order to get to the top or remain at the top. But I am not focused on what either are doing on the leaderboard unless they are in the lead, and then it is how I get up there and surpass them."
Day may have earned plenty plaudits in recent weeks but he does not feel he has done enough to earn the top spot yet."I am playing good golf but now Rory's coming back and there's Jordan. The average is there for a reason. I have just got to keep playing well," said Day.
At the Skolkovo GC outside Moscow, Scotland's Scott Jamieson fired a six-under-par 65 to share the lead with Australia's Daniel Gaunt after day one of the M2M Russian Open. Damien McGrane and Niall Kearney are best of the Irish having both hit rounds of 70 - one better than Peter Lawrie and Michael Hoey.
Deutsche Bank Championship Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.30pm
M2M Russian Open
Live, Sky Sports 4, 1.0pm