Rory McIlroy is hoping a strong performance at Torrey Pines this week can give him a major confidence boost ahead of this year's US Open at the same course.
The World No.7, who is coming off a morale-boosting third-placed finish in Abu Dhabi last week, will tee off at the California course over the next four days in the Farmers Insurance Open in a bid to not only win his first event since November 2019 but also take some learnings ahead of June's US Open, which will be played at the same venue.
McIlroy has played at this event the last two years and has a good track record at Torrey Pines, finishing tied-fifth in 2019 and tied-third last year, but he has never played it in the brutal conditions the USGA usually set it up with for a US Open.
And while the 31-year-old acknowledges that this week won't be perfect preparation for the bigger event coming up in a few months' time, he's hoping three strong rounds on the South Course - with one round this week played on the North - will stand him in good stead when he returns there later in the year.
"I'm not really going to be thinking about what (the USGA) are going to do because I just have to play the golf course that's in front of me this week," said McIlroy, who tees off his first round today at 6.40pm UK time alongside Brooks Koepka and Matthew Wolff.
"But I think three competitive rounds on the South Course this week, it will be fresh in my memory when it comes around to June and the US Open's on.
"Obviously the course is going to play much differently in June. I would expect the rough to be up a little bit more and the greens to be a little bit firmer, a little more premium on accuracy that week than maybe there is this week, but it's not as if you're not trying to hit the fairways this week either.
"If I can go out and play well and shoot three good scores on the South this week, it will give me some confidence in June."
McIlroy also called for law makers in the US to exercise common sense when it came to allowing golfers to travel freely between tournaments as the Covid-19 pandemic rages on.
Newly elected US president Joe Biden has suggested imposing a new travel ban on people travelling from the UK and the EU to prevent the transmission of new strains of the virus, which could leave several high profile names stranded as the golfing schedule begins to ramp up.
Having come straight to La Jolla from last week's tournament in Abu Dhabi, McIlroy believes a travel ban should not apply to elite golfers given the heavily sanitised conditions they have to adhere to in order to play.
"I'm going from one bubble in Europe to basically entering another bubble here. I mean, I take a test, it's negative, I don't see why that should prohibit you from playing in a golf tournament," he explained.
"I just think there's so much more knowledge about the virus now than there was, say, 10 months ago. If (the travel ban) were to come in, I would obviously do it and I couldn't do what I did this week and go straight from Abu Dhabi to here. But I just think there are ways around it now and there's more knowledge about the virus and testing is more readily available.
"I would say that would be a little bit extreme to have to quarantine."