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Rory McIlroy: 'Everything feels different in the competitive arena but my game isn't that far away'

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Rory McIlroy hits a chip during his final practice round ahead of today’s USPGA. GETTY

Rory McIlroy hits a chip during his final practice round ahead of today’s USPGA. GETTY

Rory McIlroy hits a chip during his final practice round ahead of today’s USPGA. GETTY

Rory McIlroy must turn back the clock to 2015 if he's to end his six-year Major drought in the PGA Championship at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The Holywood star (31) is winless in the game's biggest events since he won The Open and the PGA Championship in 2014.

But despite performing erratically in the five events he's played since golf resumed following the Covid-19 lockdown, he looks back fondly on his win in the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play at the San Francisco venue and believes it can help him.

"It's nice to have some memories around a golf course that you're playing a Major championship on," McIlroy said. "It's nice to have those memories and be able to recall some of the shots that you've hit.

"Hopefully some of that can help me this week and can rekindle that sort of form that helped me win here a few years ago."

The world No 3 believes he’s “very close” to regaining his pre-lockdown form, despite failing to record a top-10 finish in the five events he’s played since golf returned in June.

“Before the world sort of shut down, I was playing some really good golf, consistent. And then having that three-month break, coming back, everything sort of changed,” he admitted.

“Everything feels different, in the competitive arena, anyway. But my game doesn’t feel that far away. I feel like I’ve played pretty well.

“I just haven’t got a lot out of my game. Haven’t scored as well as I was doing before the lockdown. Short game hasn’t quite been as sharp.

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“But it’s the first Major in over a year, and it would be a great week to get back into some form and give it a good run.”

McIlroy was 25 when he went wire to wire in the 2014 Open at Hoylake and led from Friday night en

route to his second PGA Championship at Kiawah Island when taking his Major tally to four.

He desperately needs to get off to a fast start having made the top 10 after the opening day just four times in 19 Majors since 2014.

But when asked if going six years without a Major weighed on him as he prepared to tee it up with Tiger Woods and world No 1 Justin Thomas, he insisted he had other things in his life beyond golf.

“It doesn’t keep me up at night and I don’t think about it every day, but when I play these Major championships, it’s something that I’m obviously reminded of,” he said.

He was just 26 when he won the WGC Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park in 2015 but believes he’s now a more mature and rounded 31-year-old.

“Golf was everything to me, my career, and look, it still is,” he said. “It’s so important, and I want to make the most of my time on Tour and everything, but there’s other things in my life that have happened that are important to me.

“Maybe I’ve got a little more balance in there. I enjoy other things. I don’t get bogged down as much just by golf.”


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