Wednesday 22 October 2014

Rory McIlroy: 'Golf is the number one priority for me right now'

Irishman leads the way in Valhalla

Published 08/08/2014 | 18:59

Rory McIlroy reacts after making a birdie on the 13th hole
Rory McIlroy reacts after making a birdie on the 13th hole
Rory McIlroy with Caroline Wozniacki
Rory McIlroy with Caroline Wozniacki

Rory McIlroy says his decision to put more into his golf and refocus is behind the sensational form that has seen him claim the US PGA Championship halfway lead in pursuit of a second major title in four weeks.

McIlroy's opening rounds of 66 and 67 matched those of Tiger Woods on his way to victory in 2000, but 14 years on the 14-time major winner suffered more back trouble and carded a second consecutive 74 to miss just his fourth cut in 66 majors as a professional.

McIlroy's 67 was his 12th successive sub-par score and a nine-under-par halfway total of 133 means he is a combined 41 under par for his last 10 rounds, including victories in the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and a first World Golf Championship event in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.

"I've put a little bit more time into my golf and refocused in a way. It's the only thing I have, I've got my family and my friends, but I just immersed myself in my game.

"I've practised hard and I've done all the right things and I'm reaping the rewards. Golf is the number one priority to me and while I'm on this run of form I want to try and keep it going as long as possible.

"I'm going to keep working hard and try and get even better. Hopefully I can do that over the next few years and hopefully you'll see golf like this more often from me."

Ryan Palmer of the U.S. missing a putt on the 12th green
Ryan Palmer of the U.S. missing a putt on the 12th green

He added: "I think I've had to learn to be a good front-runner. I maybe wasn't quite comfortable in that position at the start of my career, especially 2011 in the Masters. I was four ahead and I wasn't quite comfortable in that position.

"It's taken me a couple of years to grow into that and my mindset has stayed the same since that day at Augusta. If I'm two ahead going into the weekend here, I'm going to try to get three ahead, and if I'm three ahead, I'm going to try to get four ahead.

"I'm just going to try to keep the pedal down and get as many ahead as possible. I went into protection mode once in my career and that did not work out very well so I said would never do it again."

The world No 1 also won the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May, just days after splitting from tennis star fiancee Caroline Wozniacki, even though the wedding invitations had already been sent out.

Speaking about the change in his personal circumstances, McIlroy added: "I think it has happened to me for the better."

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