Tuesday 12 December 2017

I am on course to be best in the world - Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP

Frank Brownlow

Rory McIlroy has pledged to match his tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki — and become world number one.

And the 22-year-old intends to achieve his goal within the next 12 months.



McIlroy is up to number three in the world after his third place finish in the KLM Open in Holland at the weekend, closing the gap on number two Lee Westwood and Luke Donald who is in pole position.



McIlroy won the US Open in June while the English duo at the top of the rankings don’t have a Major between them.



And the Holywood superstar pulls no punches when revealing his intention to become the world’s top player.



“Next season definitely,” he said.



“Luke (Donald) still has quite a healthy lead, but as long as I can get closer to the top two guys by the end of the year and give myself a good platform to attack it next year that’s really the main goal for the rest of the season.”



And McIlroy was quick to play down talk that he will be spending most of his time in America from now on.



“My home is Northern Ireland and it’s never going to be any different,” he stressed.



“I love getting home — it’s my favourite place in the world.



“All my friends are here and I’m a big Ulster Rugby supporter — I try to get to a few games when I’m home.



“I have a great facility at home here and I’m never going to leave that — it’s always going to be there for me.



“I try to get home as much as I can although sometimes it’s not possible because of the schedule and playing so many tournaments.



“I’ve got a very busy schedule coming up over the next few weeks until the end of the season.



“I’ll do the exact same thing I have done this year except instead of coming home for two or three weeks in March and April I will just stay in the States and have a base there.



“Most of my golf is played here anyway.”



McIlroy admitted he is delighted to have bounced back convincingly from the wrist injury sustained in last month’s US PGA Championship.



“I’ve had a decent few weeks, especially as after the wrist injury I didn’t know how I was going to play when I came back,” he added.



“But the fact that it has all gone to plan is good and I’m up to third in the world now which is a nice achievement.”



McIlroy was at Lough Erne Resort in Co Fermanagh yesterday to give a golf clinic to the young players the Faldo Series Grand Final.



The Co Down man is a three-time winner of Sir Nick Faldo’s global golf development programme.



“Rory is a very special talent,” said Sir Nick who won three Open Championships and three Masters titles in a glittering career.



“There’s a lot of adjustment after winning a Major but Rory has a good head on his shoulders — he’s very mature.



“He knows how to give himself the best chance of winning Majors.”



And Sir Nick admitted he was amazed at Northern Ireland’s three Major triumphs — by McIlroy, Darren Clarke and Graeme McDowell — in little over a year.



“The odds of it happening must be a million to one. You would have fancied Rory to do it at some stage, G-Mac was a bit of a dark horse, while Darren pulled off a magical victory late in his career,” said Sir Nick, who feels Royal Portrush would be a fitting venue for the Open Championship.



“It’s all about infrastructure and not just the golf course,” he said.



“I have played Royal Portrush and it’s a beautiful course, a real challenge.”



Sir Nick is confident McIlroy will emulate Clarke and win the Open, with many more Majors to follow.



“No-one can predict what’s going to happen but Rory has so much ability,” he added.



World number one will do for starters.



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