Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Top of the world Rory spells out his Major priorities

Back on top of the world Rory McIlroy is on a title charge as he heads into the final major of the season, the US PGA at the exalted Valhalla course in Louisville, Kentucky.

The 25-year-old Holywood star believes he is in the best form of his life as he seeks a third win in succession and second major title in the space of four weeks, starting on Thursday.

He heads to Valhalla back on top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013 after claiming his first World Golf Championship event in the Bridgestone Invitational at the Firestone Country Club in Ohio on Sunday, banking another £900,000.

But Rory insisted: “I think you just go and you play and you try to win golf tournaments, and if you win golf tournaments, the ranking takes care of itself. My goal now until the end of the year is just to try to win as many golf tournaments as I can. It's not to try to finish number one in the world. It's just to get as many titles as possible.”

McIlroy now tops the money lists on both sides of the Atlantic with £26million earned this year, and the bad news for his rivals is that after his Open triumph at Hoylake and Sunday’s Bridgestone victory, both by two shots over the unfortunate Sergio Garcia, Rory believes he is playing at a higher level.

“It was the most comfortable I've ever felt trying to close out a golf tournament out there on Sunday,” he said. “I felt normal. I felt like it was the first round or the second round. It didn't feel like a fourth round.

Rory added: “Mentally it's the best I've ever been. I didn't get ahead of myself. I didn't start to think about my score. I didn't think about where I was in the tournament. I just kept playing my shot after shot after shot.”

With Adam Scott narrowly failing to secure the top-five finish he needed to prevent McIlroy from overtaking him, Rory’s lead at the top of the rankings is just 0.17 points.

But McIlroy is more focused on tournament victories than rankings, with plenty still to play for in the rest of the season.

“It's a nice honour and it's a nice title to have, but I don't think you should go into tournaments thinking about it or thinking 'Oh, this guy could pass me if I don't finish in this position, or this guy could do this,”' McIlroy said.

“I feel like the run of golf courses we've got coming up are going to suit me. I haven't seen Valhalla, but from what I heard you need to hit it pretty long and drive the ball well.”

Asked if McIlroy was on the way to dominating the sport as Tiger Woods did in his prime, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley replied: “There is no reason why not.

“What I think is great is that Rory can hold his attitude where it is at now, it's very much in the present, taking one week at a time. He's never said he was chasing Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 majors and that's a great attitude, it takes the pressure off him and keeps him very much in the present”

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