McIlroy: Burning desire for more victories is still very much in me

 

Shanghai

Rory McIlroy is supposed to be carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders, weighed down by a game that has gone walkabout, equipment that doesn’t work, and a legal battle with his former management company.

Throw into that particular mix the gossip-column rumour that his relationship with Caroline Wozniacki has come to an end and you might expect to find a player who is not only down in the mouth, but almost down and out.

So, how to explain the McIlroy who has turned up in Shanghai this week looking to all the world like a serious contender for the BMW Masters tournament that gets under way at Lake Malaren tomorrow?

He may have had a torrid year by his own exalted standards, but the 24-year-old Northern Irishman has that familiar bounce in his step once more, a smile on his face, and that most precious of things for any top sportsman – a scent of victory. 

McIlroy, who is yet to win in 2013, came close to breaking his duck when he finished runner-up at the Korean Open at the weekend. Buoyed by his performance, he nonetheless bristles at the thought that he let one get away. It may not have been the most high profile of events, but a win is a win nonetheless.

Ten strokes behind at the start of the final day, he eventually lost by one. “I can’t believe four under par won it,” he said. “I threw away 10 shots at the weekend just with the putts. There were good signs, though. I hit it really well tee to green and hit two flagsticks on Sunday.”

His final-round 67 could have been so much better, he said. Get the putting right and who knows what lies in store?

Most observers trace McIlroy’s sudden decline (he has fallen from No 1 in the world at the start of the year to No 6) to his switch of clubs from Titleist to Nike in January. He now admits that he had trouble adapting to his new equipment, but is positively beaming at the thought that he finally has a driver he can trust and a ball that is responding to his signals.

“It hasn’t been my best year but I’ve still got a lot of determination and motivation to get back to world No 1,” he said, before promptly contradicting himself.

“Not being world No 1 doesn’t make me more hungry, because it doesn’t matter if I’m No 3 or No 63. That doesn’t really make much difference to me. What makes me hungry is that I haven’t won any tournaments this year and the burning desire to win more is still very much in me.”

Of more immediate concern is the Ulsterman’s position in the Race  to Dubai. Having won it at a canter last year, he lies at No 63 in the standings and needs to get into the top 60 to qualify for the DP World Tour Championship, the European Tour’s grand finale in Dubai next month. Who would have thought it?

“I’m just outside [qualifying] at the minute, but a good performance this week could make all the difference,” he said. “There’s big prize money [€850,000 (£720,000) to the winner] and lots of points up for grabs. This is a hugely important week for me – as is next  week [at the HSBC Champions tournament, also in Shanghai]. I want to give myself a shot at defending my title.

“But there’s no sense of urgency. I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I have five events left this year and obviously it would be nice to finish 2013 with a win. But if I don’t, it’s not the end of the world.”

When Wozniacki won a tennis tournament in Luxembourg on Sunday, McIlroy tweeted his delight at the success of “his girl”. Perhaps this week, she will return the compliment.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Sink the Pink's 2013 New Year's Eve party
musicFour of Britain's top DJs give their verdict on how to party into 2015
Arts and Entertainment
(L-R) Amanda Peet as Tina Morris, Melanie Lynskey as Michelle Pierson, Abby Ryder Fortson as Sophie Pierson, Mark Duplass as Brett Pierson and Steve Zissis as Alex Pappas in Togetherness
TV First US networks like HBO shook up drama - now it's comedy's turn
Travel
Pool with a view: the mMarina Bay Sands in Singapore
travel From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
News
The will of Helen Beatrix Heelis, better known as Beatrix Potter, was among those to be archived
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
News
Nigel Farage: 'I don't know anybody in politics as poor as we are'
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect