While the world No 1 Jason Day, Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler have all tasted success this year, McIlroy has had to settle for four top-10 finishes in strokeplay events, as well as losing in the semi-finals of the WGC-Dell Match Play.
But the world No 3 has a great chance to end his winless run by staging a successful title defence in this week''s Wells Fargo Championship, an event which provided his first PGA Tour title in 2010 and five top-10 finishes in six appearances.
McIlroy cruised to a seven-shot triumph at Quail Hollow 12 months ago, carding a course-record 61 in the third round which was 10.16 shots better than the field average of 71.16. “I''m very excited to be back,” McIlroy told a pre-tournament press conference.
“Any time you get to defend a title is exciting and Quail Hollow has been a really good place for me in my PGA Tour career. I''ve always been very comfortable on this golf course and with the great memories that I have it all adds up to a really enjoyable week, but a week where I feel like I can play really well and strongly and have a chance to contend again.”
McIlroy, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday, took three weeks off after finishing 10th in the Masters and, after initially leaving his clubs well alone, has since spent time working hard on his game.
The four-time major winner told the Golf Channel: “I had a good chat with my swing coach Michael Bannon. I''d got into a couple of bad habits leading up to Augusta and it''s never really a good time to work on them -you are just trying to play golf and shoot a score. I''d started to set the club a little deep, got the club a little behind me. I needed to set it a little more vertical and try to get it coming down on the plane a little more with a little less clubface rotation, and I feel like I have done that pretty well. I am still working on it and I''ve got a few swing thoughts this week but I feel better than I did when I put the clubs away for a couple of weeks.
“I took basically a full two weeks off from golf. I went home to Ireland for a week and then had a bit of a break; I was island-hopping for about 10 days, which was nice. I''ve worked pretty hard the last week to lead into this week and looking on to the Players and the Irish Open too. I''ve got three important weeks coming up for me. There''s a couple of things at Augusta that I need to rectify but I feel I''ve done that for the most part and it''s always great to come back to somewhere where I''ve got good memories.” – The Independent
Original source: McIlroy upbeat ahead of Quail Hollow