Sunday 11 December 2016

Rory McIlroy: I'm untouchable at my best

Published 29/09/2011 | 08:32

CRANS, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during the final round of the Omega European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club on September 4, 2011 in Crans, Switzerland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
CRANS, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 04: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland during the final round of the Omega European Masters at the Crans-sur-Sierre golf club on September 4, 2011 in Crans, Switzerland. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy has warned his rivals he’s untouchable when he’s on top of his game.

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In a statement that certainly doesn’t lack confidence or self-belief, the US Open champion says no-one can keep pace with him when’s he’s at his best.

The Holywood star has experienced the amazing highs and crushing lows of golf but he remains convinced that he’s number one in the world when everything clicks into place.

A Masters meldown was consigned to the history books when he stormed to a maiden major title at Congressional — cruising home by eight shots.

His bullish statement will surprise Lee Westwood and Luke Donald who are both above the 22-year-old in the world rankings.

"When I'm 100 per cent, I won the US Open by eight shots, was six shots clear in the final round in Dubai and, after being on the cut line, shot 16-under at the weekend to win Quail Hollow by four," McIlroy said. "So when you're on, you feel untouchable. I'd take it if this happened to me four or five times a year.

"But it's being able to win when you're not playing your best; that's the secret I want to find. Turning those second, third and fourth placed finishes, when I'm not playing my best, into wins is basically what I'm trying to do now."

McIlroy, who is now dating the world’s number one female tennis player, Caroline Wozniacki, is now firnly in the celebrity spotlight — and that means a very different approach to life.

"I just think from the incredible low of Augusta to the incredible high of Congressional and everything that's happened since, that it's probably going to be the defining year of my career," he added.

"I think it has to change you. You do have to get harder as a person and I've noticed that a little bit about myself already.

"The Open was an eye-opener for me because I'd never really received that amount of attention before. You obviously want to try to be as open and honest as you possibly can but with so much attention on you it's hard. You have to put a little bit of a shield up."

Lee Westwood is favourite to win his second Dunhill Links title at St Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns this week.

But the first prize of £515,000 would still leave Westwood or McIlroy with a mountain to climb in the European Order of Merit which is led by Donald.

"Luke's playing very, very consistently," said McIlroy, who has finished third in his last two European Tour events. He seems like every time he tees it up he finishes in the top five, and if he does that he's going to be very difficult to beat."

Belfast Telegraph

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