Rory McIlroy: I don’t want burnout
Rory McIlroy lines up at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow hoping to be inspired by his return to the scene of his first victory in America two years ago.
The Holywood starlet — who turns 23 tomorrow — hit a magical course record of 62 in the final round after he had almost missed the halfway cut.
McIlroy starts as 8/1 favourite this week — while two years ago he was a 66/1 shot who ripped through the field.
“I think that by going into majors as a major champion it's definitely heightened your expectation levels a little bit — maybe that was something that I maybe didn't control quite so well at The Masters,” he said.
He was only one shot off the lead after two rounds, but closed 77-76.
There is obviously no need for him to panic about that, though. Last year, of course, he finished with an 80 when four clear and then two months later won the US Open by eight with a record score.
McIlroy plays the opening two rounds with two other former winners at Quail Hollow, Jim Furyk and David Toms, with Tiger Woods in the group immediately ahead of them.
Lee Westwood partners Kyle Stanley and defending champion Lucas Glover, while Phil Mickelson tees off alongside Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley.
They were the three players who fought out a play-off won by Haas at Riviera in Los Angeles in February.
Graeme McDowell was in the original field, but withdrew in order to rest and recharge his batteries before next week's Players Championship — the event he led by three at one point last year, but then fell away to a closing 79.
Both McIlroy and Westwood have the chance to dethrone the resting Luke Donald as world number one.
McIlroy (pictured) also took three weeks off before The Masters, but it is all part of his long-term plan.
“I don't want to be burned out by the time I'm 30 — I want to try and prolong my career as much as I can,” he said.
“I sometimes take a little bit too much out of myself, especially at the end of the season.
“Basically the most important time for me in the golf season is from the start of April until the end of August. That's when all the big tournaments are and that's when you want to play your best golf.
“All the stuff either side of that is more preparation work and making sure that your game is getting ready and your body is physically ready.
“I know I've been criticised a little bit for not playing as much as some other guys leading into these few weeks, but I know I've got a big stretch coming up and I want to be as fresh as possible for this.
“I'm trying to find the perfect balance between golf and having a normal life and everything else.
“For me there's more to life than just golf. I don't know if people are surprised to hear that, but I have a lot more going on in my life than just golf.”
McIlroy and Woods have both had three weeks to digest what went wrong in The Masters, where so much was expected of them and they finished joint 40th.