McIlroy: ‘I believe on my day I’m the best player in the world’
January 09, 2020
By Sean Martin, PGATOUR.COM
Rory McIlroy's best shots of the decade: 2010-19
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – After a fruitful season that saw him win THE PLAYERS Championship and his second FedExCup, Rory McIlroy put away the clubs for the final month of 2019 and gave himself space to reflect on his accomplishments.
He won four times in the calendar year, capping it off with his victory at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions. He also posted the best Strokes Gained season by a player not named Tiger Woods.
It was that consistency that made McIlroy most pleased. He finished in the top 10 in 19 of 25 worldwide starts last year.
“I think my ability to score, the ability to keep momentum going during a round -- and that's mostly to do with short game, missing a green, getting up‑and‑down and holing that crucial putt -- not focusing so much on the technical side of the game, focusing on the scoring side of the game, not looking at my swing as much on the camera, a lot of that stuff has really helped,” he said Wednesday evening at THE PLAYERS STADIUM Course at TPC Sawgrass. It was his first time at the course since his win last March.
THE PLAYERS was his first of three wins in the 2018-19 season. He also claimed the RBC Canadian Open with a final-round 61 and capped the season with the TOUR Championship to join Tiger Woods as the only two-time FedExCup champions. McIlroy also won the PGA TOUR Player of the Year Award for the third time.
No one has successfully defended the FedExCup – Woods won his in 2007 and 2009 – but McIlroy is off to a strong start this season. He finished third in THE ZOZO Championship, six strokes behind Woods, and won the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. McIlroy is fifth in this season’s standings.
McIlroy said Wednesday that he played just twice in December – Jack Nicklaus’ charity event on the first of the month and a casual round with his father, Gerry, at Seminole. A trip to Ireland and Ashford Castle, where he got married in 2017, was part of his itinerary.
“I just switched off, which was nice,” McIlroy 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.”
His coach, Michael Bannon, will join him next week in Jupiter, Florida, as McIlroy prepares for his 2020 debut at the Farmers Insurance Open. McIlroy said his swing feels good despite the long layoff, but he’s hesitant to look at it on camera as he tries to move away from mechanical thoughts.
“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.
“I really want to play with as much feel as possible.”
Adding to his historic resume is what drives McIlroy, who turned 30 in 2019. He’s entering a stage of his life that’s long been considered a golfer’s prime.
“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. “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.”