Rory McIlroy happy to stalk in the shadow of Tiger Woods

Ulsterman can return to No 1 with victory in Houston but is glad of a spell out of the spotlight

Over to you Rors was the thrust of the smartphone messaging from Tiger Woods. The new world No 1 can afford to be cocky after three wins in four stroke-play events on the PGA Tour this year.

Woods, who implored McIlroy to pull his finger out and win in Houston this week, will not appear again until the Masters in a fortnight. He has gone to Augusta three times with a hat-trick of victories behind him and, interestingly, has never converted in the first major of the year under such fecund circumstances.

McIlroy is delighted for the cover Woods’ ascent provides. World No 2 is not so bad for a 23-year-old, who, since his last outing at Doral, has  enjoyed the relative calm that comes with the relative obscurity. It could be short-lived. A win at the Shell Houston Open, which starts today, will return him to the No 1 berth and blow the bloody doors off the quieter life again.

Matters have settled to a degree since the Honda Classic meltdown. His final-round 65 at the WGC-Cadillac Championship, which catapulted him from 56th at the end of day one to the top 10, was the kind of rehabilitation needed after the traumatic start to the year following his much-hyped transfer to Nike.

“It’s been tough. It’s sort of the second time I’ve had to go through it in the past 12 months. But you know, it is part and parcel of where I’m at in the game. I guess it would be nice if I didn’t have to go through it, if everything was just sort of even keel, but I guess that’s what attracts me to  people, these sort of ups and downs that I go through,” McIlroy said.

“I don’t think I’ll ever go through a period like that again in my career with everything that was going on. Now that that’s gone, it’s out of the way, I can just concentrate on the golf. And what I learned is you have to just stay the same player and the same person and not get caught up in the hype and the excitement and all the stuff that goes on around it. That’s something I’m trying to do a little bit better, and not read as much. I’m  trying to immerse myself in my own little world, and if I can do that, then that sort of blocks everything else out. It’s OK.”

McIlroy tees off at Houston in the marquee group alongside Dustin Johnson and Keegan Bradley. As much as a win would be welcome, all eyes are cast in the direction of victory at the Masters. “It would mean everything. I’m halfway to the career Grand Slam and that’s one of the pieces of the puzzle. The Open Championship is the other,” McIlroy said. “That’s a big goal for me is to try to win more major championships. I feel like I’m at a stage now where, sure I want to win other tournaments, but the majors are the focus.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
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

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital