US PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy replays last year's triumph in bid to rescue 2013

Ulsterman claims just small adjustments are needed to his game and watches 2012 win for inspiration before US PGA title defence

Oak Hill

An older, wiser Rory McIlroy rolls out across Oak Hill this afternoon in defence of the US PGA Championship. He might even surprise a few people with the standard of golf he brings to the season's last major. There was a sign of that chirpy confidence returning in the candour of his answers, a willingness to engage and an optimism about his game that suggests a barren 2013 might not endure much longer.

In the endless search for the keys that might release him from his winless purgatory, McIlroy has been watching reruns of past successes, including his victory in this championship a year ago to claim his second major. He reminded a packed media conference that the form he brought to Kiawah Island was none too good either, save for the unrepresentative top-five finish at the WGC-Bridgestone the week previously. Before that lay a broken field of missed cuts.

"I'm feeling good. I had a really good nine holes of golf this morning. Played really, really well," McIlroy said. "I've been watching a few videos of last year at Kiawah and some of my best weeks that I've played and it sort of lifted me a little bit. I took some good things away from that."

Just about everybody in the game has contributed to the McIlroy debate. Arguments embracing his change of clubs, his change in management and the company he keeps have filled the golfing salons all year. McIlroy has for the most part dealt patiently with the heightened interest in his affairs. He acknowledges the right of the media and the golfing intelligentsia to wade in as they see fit, however discomfiting it has been. He also knows that only he has the power to affect change, and with that in mind decided against a visit to the sports psychologist couch touted after he missed the cut at the Open last month.

Back to the video therapy. "I think technical things, for sure; you look at the way you're swinging the club. But also, it's more than that; it's body language, it's how you carry yourself, it's all that sort of stuff, your little mannerisms. I guess it's just trying to remember those feelings and remember how I felt that week and trying to carry some of that into this week and just get those good, positive thoughts going."

Ian Poulter reminded us that McIlroy is only 24 years old, yet to come into his man years as an adult despite his successes on the golf course. Give him a break, he will work it out and win big again was the kernel of Poulter's wisdom. This is McIlroy's position entirely. "I mean, first and foremost, I just haven't been swinging it the best this year. I got into a couple bad habits with my golf swing, and it's just taken me a little bit longer to get out of them. Obviously, when you're fighting that so much, it's hard to play the golf that I want to play, which is fluid, which is free-flowing. That's the way I play my best.

"Trying to work on my swing so much this year has not allowed me to do that, and every time you play and you don't play well, it sort of chips away at your confidence a little bit, and it's just about building that back up. But I'm sitting here as confident as I have been all year, so I'm looking forward to getting going this week."

The return to domestic dominance, if not yet major majesty, of Tiger Woods has been of immense value to McIlroy in understanding his own difficulties. Observing the incremental, methodological gains that have taken Woods from the edge of oblivion back to the top of the world rankings has motivated him to work just as assiduously to reclaim his lost lustre.

"People were writing him off at this time a couple of years ago, whatever he was, outside the top 50 in the world. Now he's back to where he was a few years ago. So it's great to see. I think it's good for the game of golf. I'd love to be able to get my game back to where I know it can be and be able to challenge him."

Justin Rose is another hoping for a rapid resetting of old routines following the emotional high of his first major win at the US Open in June. Rose played only once after his success at Merion before arriving at Muirfield for the Open and admitted to being knocked sideways by the scale of his achievement. "I wasn't ready with my body. I wasn't ready with my game," he said. "I think it's the back slapping you get from everybody, which is obviously very nice but in some ways can prevent you from staying fully focused. Two months removed from that I feel like the trophy is back at home where it should be. I can reflect on it in my quiet moments but it is time to move on."

Rose's return to the real world was accelerated this week courtesy of a jolt in his courtesy car. "It was just a minor fender bender. It's embarrassing but no one was hurt." Rose's time in the naughty corner was mercifully brief thanks to the clanger dropped by last year's runner-up to McIlroy, David Lynn, who filled his petrol car with diesel while on the tourist trail to nearby Niagara Falls.

"I practised early on Tuesday and then left at 12 o'clock to see the Falls. Unfortunately, I put the wrong grade of fuel in the car when I was there. The car was having a good cough so we decided not to risk it any more and pulled into a service station. I had friends with me who were in a hire car. They were about five miles in front of us so I jumped in with them. At least I managed to keep the car in one piece, unlike the US Open champion."

A year to forget: McIlroy's troubles

February Knocked out by 64th-ranked Shane Lowry in first round of the WGC Match Play Championship.

March Withdraws during Honda Classic citing pain in wisdom tooth.

April Struggles in the Masters, eventually tying for 25th place with a score of two over par.

June Takes frustration out on nine-iron as he ends US Open on 14 over.

July Misses the cut at the Open after finishing on 14 over.

August 17 shots adrift of a rampant Tiger Woods at the end of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational.

US PGA Championship details

Selected tee-off times (all BST; US unless stated):

Starting at 1st hole

1.30pm S Cink, P Lawrie (Scot), R Cabrera-Bello (Sp)

5.35pm D Clarke (NI), T Watson, P McGinley (Irl)

5.55pm N Colsaerts (Bel), J Day (Aus), B Snedeker

6.05pm T Clark (SA), L Westwood (Eng), B Watson

6.15pm M A Jimenez (Sp), W Simpson, A Cabrera (Arg)

6.25pm R McIlroy (NIrl), V Singh (Fiji), M Kaymer (Ger)

6.45pm A Scott (Aus), J Rose (Eng), P Mickelson

6.55pm L Glover, I Poulter (Eng), Z Johnson

Starting at 10th hole

12.35pm H Mahan, P Casey (Eng), B Horschel

12.45pm H Matsuyama (Japan), S Stricker, J Dufner

12.55pm S Garcia (Sp), M Kuchar, R Fowler

1.05pm G McDowell (NIrl), E Els (SA), B Haas

1.15pm D Toms, P Harrington (Irl), Y E Yang (S Kor)

1.25pm H Stenson (Swe), D Johnson, C Schwartzel (SA)

1.35pm D Love III, K Bradley, T Woods

1.45pm P Uihlein, J Furyk, T Bjorn (Den)

6.10pm B Weekley, F Molinari (It), T Jaidee (Thai)

Television coverage

6pm-12am Sky Sports 1. Highlights: 1am, Sky Sports 1.

Weather Sunshine and showers, with poss-ibility of storms. Max temp: 27C.

Odds 4-1 Woods; 14-1 Mickelson; 16-1 Scott; 22-1 Stenson; 28-1 Rose, Snedeker; 30-1 Mahan, Westwood; 33-1 Bradley, Dufner, McIlroy; 35-1 Donald, Kuchar.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's most starring part
News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
News
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable
science

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Student
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise
student

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
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

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week