Rory McIlroy intends to play “carefree” golf in 2020 as he seeks more tournament wins and a return to the world number one spot.
His first event of the season is the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines.
The Northern Irishman said: “It doesn’t serve me as a golfer to play conservatively, carefully. I have my own style to play and most of the time it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
“It’s a mindset I’m going to try to replicate every time I tee up.”
McIlroy added that he has been drawing on last summer’s experience in The Open at Royal Portrush, when he followed up a calamitous opening-day 79 with a second-round 65 to miss the cut by one shot.
The world number two credited the backing he received from his home fans as being pivotal to his charge up the leaderboard in round two.
“I said to myself after Portrush: ‘Why would I be careful? Why would I not go out there with the most carefree attitude?’ That’s something I’ve learned,” said McIlroy.
“The other big thing I learned is how important home is to me, having that support. Anytime I think about that experience at Portrush, I think about the people from back home and what I mean to them.
“It was a big reminder of that that week and if I’m ever struggling or feeling down about things, I can always look back to the support I got there.
“I learned a lot of things at Portrush that I’ve put into my game, into my preparation, into my thought processes for other tournaments, and I’ve had a pretty good run since then.”
Being top ranked player ‘will take care of itself’
McIlroy can regain golf’s world number one ranking from Brooks Koepka with a win at Torrey Pines this week, but the four-time major champion says he will focus on his game and let the ranking take care of itself.
“It’s all about the process, it’s all about the game, it’s all about trying to make improvements. If I do that and I achieve those goals, then hopefully inevitably I get to that position,” said McIlroy of the top spot, which he last held in September 2015.
“It’s a by-product of playing consistently good golf and I’ve been doing that for a while now.”
Key to major success ‘starting well’
McIlroy earned US PGA Tour Player of the Year honours in 2019 after a season that included wins at the Players Championship, the RBC Canadian Open, the Tour Championship and the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
His focus as he launches his 2020 campaign is on adding to his tally of four major titles. With a win at the Masters in April, he would complete a career Grand Slam.
“When I look back at the majors I’ve won and done well in, I’ve always started well,” he said. “Three of the four majors last year, I had started slow. That’s something I’m going to try to improve this year.”
With the Tokyo Olympics and Ryder Cup also coming in 2020, McIlroy is plotting his way through a busy year. He will play five straight weeks at the Irish Open, the Memorial, the Canadian Open the US Open and the Travelers Championship.
The Open championship will be followed by the Olympics and the US PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-offs and the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin.
Targeting six tournament wins
If he doesn’t find himself atop the world rankings come Sunday, McIlroy said there will be plenty of opportunities.
“I don’t want to say it feels like it’s just a matter of time, but if I just keep doing what I’m doing, if it isn’t this week, then hopefully it’s a couple weeks down the line and I’ll have my chances,” he said.
“I’m not putting myself under any pressure this week to get it done. It was exciting to play the tournament for the first time last year and one year on I feel a bit more comfortable with the golf course.
“I set myself a goal of winning six times last year and I won four. So I didn’t quite achieve it, but I still had a good year.
“Five is the most I’ve ever won so I’d like to top that at some point. Six is something I strive for but there is a lot of stuff goes into winning those tournaments, the stuff I do away from the course.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport