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'Everything else is gravy now': Rory McIlroy to forget pressure and revert to swashbuckling style

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Rory McIlroy is promising a return to his conventional playing style this summer.

Rory McIlroy is promising a return to his conventional playing style this summer.

AP

Rory McIlroy is promising a return to his conventional playing style this summer.

Rory McIlroy is promising a return to his conventional playing style this summer.

AP

Rory McIlroy is promising a return to his conventional playing style this summer.

Rory McIlroy has vowed to throw off the shackles and play swashbuckling golf after paying the price for being too conservative in the Majors last year.

The Holywood star believes he learned much from his painful missed cut in The Open at Royal Portrush, where he opened with a 79 before carding a rousing second round 65 as he was carried along by the emotion of his home crowd.

"It doesn't serve me to try to be careful, to try to play conservatively or the way some other people play," McIlroy said at Torrey Pines, where a win in his first start of 2020 in the Farmers Insurance Open would propel him to world No 1 again.

"I have my own style of play and most of the times it works. Sometimes I get into situations and get a little too conservative and I become a little too careful. Basically I said to myself after Portrush, I am 30 years old, I have basically achieved everything I want to achieve in the game. Why would I be careful? Why would I not go out there with the most care-free attitude and think everything beyond this is just gravy? That's a mindset I am going to try and replicate."

He pointed to "preparation", "mindset" and starting too slowly in three of the four Majors last year as things he wants to rectify this season.

"There is a lot of build-up and a lot of hype going into those tournaments and while I feel I did a pretty good job of shutting myself away from all that stuff, certain things still get in there," he said. "You go out in the first round trying to play your way into the golf tournament, make a few pars and play protective golf a little bit. That's never been in my nature. I am the other way. I start aggressively and if I do play well, I usually keep myself up there."

As for regaining the No 1 spot in the world, he insisted it wasn't a priority either as he eases his way back into competition. "It didn't get on the list of goals," McIlroy said of quest to return to No 1. "I set myself goals like being plus-one strokes gained for approach play. It's all about the process, all about the game and trying to make improvements."

He added: "I set myself a goal of winning six times last year and won four. Five is the most I've ever won, so I'd like to top that at some point."

Pádraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell tee it up in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic today, as Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow play the LPGA Tour's inaugural $2 million Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in Florida.

"I've been practising everything to have all bases covered because there are a lot of new courses this year, I am just trying to make sure I am as well prepared as I can be," said Maguire.

In amateur golf, the Ireland men's team came back from 2.5-0.5 down after the foursomes beat hosts Spain 6-3 on day two of the Octagonal Trophy at Costa Ballena. They top their three-team group and are in position to make tomorrow's title match if they beat the Czech Republic today.

Independent.ie