Rory McIlroy has his eyes on victory this week, not Masters preparation

Rory McIlroy says he is "100% focused" on finding his first win of the year and is not using the ZOZO Championship as Masters prep.

Jack Seddon's picture
Thu, 22 Oct 2020

Rory McIlroy has insisted that he has his full attention on winning the ZOZO Championship this week and he is not simply using the tournament to prepare for the Masters in November.

The Northern Irishman is without a victory since November 2019, when he claimed the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai and since then McIlroy has slipped to 5th in the World Rankings.

McIlroy did reclaim his World No.1 spot after an incredible run of form following his last victory and prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the 31-year-old was looking back to his best and ready to clean up on the PGA Tour.

After returning from the forced 91-day halt due to COVID spread, McIlroy's hot form was nowhere to be seen and he didn't find a top 10 finish until the Tour Championship in September.

McIlroy has been working on numerous parts of his game as he looks to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the Masters in November, but speaking to the media ahead of this week's ZOZO Championship at Sherwood Country Club, McIlroy is playing to win, not practice.

"It's four rounds, it's an opportunity to win a PGA Tour event, so that's first and foremost what my focus is," said McIlroy.

"It's been a year since I've won, I haven't won since China last year. So this week is a great opportunity to try to get a win and get into contention and I think that would be a big step if I were able to. I haven't really been in contention much since coming back from the lockdown.

"If I could get into contention this week and have a chance to win, I think that would be great for just overall confidence in play and all that. But obviously great looking ahead a couple weeks' time and getting in a position where you're having to hit shots under the gun and under that pressure of trying to win a golf tournament.

"But for me, I'm 100 per cent focused on this week and there's no part of my mind that will be on Augusta, Georgia, when I'm out there playing those 72 holes this week."

Of course with the Masters right around the corner, McIlroy still faced questions about his preperation for the final major of the calendar year and the four-time major champion said his short game and Augusta experience could prove vital.

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"You need all aspects of your game in good shape, especially your short game," McIlroy added. "One of the conversations I remember having with Phil back in the day was he always tried to get his short game so good at Augusta.

"Then he could be ultra-aggressive with the second shots knowing that he had a short game to bail him out if he did miss it on the wrong side. So you try to get your short game really sharp and get everything else sort of following that.

"And if you go back to a course every year, there are no real surprises. You've probably missed it in similar spots before, you know what it does. There are certain things you remember, like the putt up the 14th green, like that's the slowest putt on the course and if you have that putt, you remember it.

"I think it's just all these little things that it's just experience, I think that's it. I don't think it's anything like there's more knowledge, it's just being in that situation a few more times than guys that haven't been there that much and being comfortable and having certainty of knowing what this certain shot or this certain putt is going to do."

NEXT PAGE: PGA Tour pro reveals why he's "sick of Justin Thomas"



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