McIlroy happy with reduced attention
Rory McIlroy is happy to be coming into The Open Championship at Royal Lytham this week without the weight of expectation bearing down on him.
This time last year the 23-year-old Northern Irishman could hardly move at Sandwich without being swarmed over either by autograph hunters or a media pack hungry for quotes as he made his first appearance since winning his first major title by eight shots at the US Open.
But after some recent poor form, the Northern Irishman is happy not to have such a bright spotlight on him, and he said: "It's been great. It's been lovely just going about my business - definitely not the madness that was going on last year. It's nice. I've tried to keep it as low-key as possible and feel like I've done that pretty well."
McIlroy has missed four of his last six halfway cuts and messed up the chance to win one of the other two events with a closing double-bogey six.
Calling his recent form "just a little blip in the radar", McIlroy is content with how he is swinging the club and at the very least hopes to do better than last year's Open, when he finished 25th..
"I think taking three weeks off before was something to do with it," he said of his performance there. "Obviously there were so many requests coming in and so many things to do. The hype and everything was so big as well that it maybe had a little bit to do with it, but at the end of the day I just didn't play well enough to figure in the tournament."
He left saying he could not wait to get back to some good weather in America and doubting his ability ever to get in the hunt when the going was rough.
He now insists: "Those comments were just pure frustration with having really high expectations going into it, coming off a major win.
"Blaming the weather, blaming the draw, blaming my luck - that was just frustration. Looking back I just didn't handle the conditions as best I could have.
"That's something that I'm trying to do more of and to some degree at Portrush (in the Irish Open two weeks ago) I felt like I played well in the bad conditions. If it's like that again this week you're just going to have to knuckle down and focus and keep fighting."