Wednesday 25 April 2018

McIlroy ready to focus on Europe

Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images
Rory McIlroy. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy feels his stint on the US PGA Tour has made him stronger as both a person and a player but is determined to kick-start a return to winning ways in Europe at this week's UBS Hong Kong Open.

The Irishman opted to take out a full US PGA Tour card 12 months ago and went on to claim his first victory on American soil at the Quail Hollow Championship in May.

McIlroy last week announced his intention to focus predominately on the European Tour from next season, however, admitting he missed home too much to continue playing in the States.

But the 21-year-old stressed he has no regrets over his decision to play in the States, confident it will play an important part in his overall development.

"I found out a lot about myself," said McIlroy. "I found out that the places that you like to go to has a lot to do with (being happy). There is no point playing a tournament that you don't want to be at.

"I am trying to pick and choose events where I am happy in the places I am, that I want to be there and want to give it a go.

"If you asked me this time last year where I would want to be now I would have said I would like to have had a couple more wins, I felt I have played good enough to have more wins but that is the way golf goes sometimes.

"So hopefully I will be able to get my first European Tour win this year in Hong Kong this week."

McIlroy has yet to win in Hong Kong but has come agonisingly close the past two years, missing out to Lin Wen-tang in 2008 and then Gregory Bourdy in 2009, but he is confident history will not repeat itself this week.

"I've come close the last couple of years and I was in a great play-off in 2008 and then Gregory played very very well to win last year, it was a very solid performance," added McIlroy.

"I love the golf course and I love Hong Kong and I love coming back here. I know the golf course well and I feel I've got a good idea of what I need to this week to try and get that win here."

McIlroy also arrived in Hong Kong last year second to Lee Westwood in the Race to Dubai while this time it is compatriot and close friend Graeme McDowell who heads to the Fanling Golf Club chasing Martin Kaymer at the top of the European Tour money list.

Victory for McDowell in Hong Kong would not be enough for him to supplant Kaymer but would no doubt give him a psychological boost for the Dubai World Championship.

And McIlroy believes McDowell is in the perfect position to have a shot at winning the Race to Dubai.

"I was chasing Lee (Westwood) here this time last year and I finished second and went above him," he said. "It was nearly a bad thing though because when you are chasing, more than likely all you think about is trying to win tournaments.

"Graeme has been playing great, Martin has as well, but I think Graeme has got the edge a little bit.

"He is finishing strong and hopefully he can go and do it."

Press Association

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