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'On my day I'm the best': Rory McIlroy targets total dominance with new approach to new decade

Rory McIlroy and caddy Harry Diamond
Rory McIlroy and caddy Harry Diamond
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

'New Decade, New Approach.' It's the slogan for Stormont in the 2020s but, equally, it could be viewed as a snappy summary of Rory McIlroy's views of the incoming decade.

The 30-year-old enters January as second in the official world golf rankings, behind only US rival Brooks Koepka.

He was open and honest about his designs on the top spot at the end of 2019.

Now he's doubled down on his aims to not only overhaul Koepka, but to assert his dominance over the golfing world. Indefinitely.

“I believe on my day I’m the best player in the world and I think I can do that for a long time,” he said at Sawgrass on Wednesday, returning to the scene of his 2019 Players' Championship win to shoot a 2020 promo.

“For the foreseeable future, I feel like I can be the best player in the world, and I want to make the most of that. I think with all the experience that I have and what I’ve learned over these past 10 years, I think I can make the next 10 even better.”

In order to do that, the Holywood golfer is adopting something of a new approach.

Gone is the pursuit of perfection. In is a willingness to trust his instincts.

“I really want to play with as much feel as possible," he said.

"Previously some years I’ve tried to be too perfect, I’ve tried to do stuff with my swing. Now, in the New Year, for the last nearly week I haven’t seen my swing on camera once, … and I’m almost hesitant to see it because I’m hitting it good and I’m feeling good,” he said. “Everyone thinks that I’m a feel player, but there’s a lot of technical stuff that can get in there, too."

McIlroy will begin his 2020 schedule on January 23, when he tees it up, alongside Tiger Woods, at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, followed by an outing at The Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club.

Until then, it's a matter of refinding the form that saw McIlroy win four times in 2019.

He played only twice in December, once at Jack Nicklaus’ charity event and then alongside father Gerry at Seminole GC in Florida. Other than that, there was a trip back home including a visit to Ashford Castle, where he got married to Erica Stoll in 2017.

“I just switched off, which was nice,”he said. “Once I got back to the States on New Year’s Day, I got the clubs out of the closet and started to practice.”

McIlroy, of course, goes into 2020 looking for his first major victory since 2014. His first chance will be at the Masters in April as he bids to complete the career grand slam with a first win at Augusta. New Decade. New Approach. New Result?

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