Kiawah Island, South Carolina – Rory McIlroy says he hopes to rediscover, at this week's PGA Championship, the 'buzz' of being in contention for a major title after a season in which his outstanding early form has not been replicated in the big tournaments.
Since winning his first grand slam crown by a staggering eight shots at the 2011 U.S. Open, the Northern Irishman has been bitterly disappointed by his failure to contend in the game's biggest events.
Though only five major championships have taken place since then, it is a measure of McIlroy's rapidly rising golfing stock that he is expected by his peers, the fans and himself to be consistently in the title hunt.
As heavy rain lashed the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island on Wednesday, the mop-haired McIlroy was asked by reporters whether he was frustrated he had not won a major since last year's U.S. Open at Congressional.
“Not really, I've hopefully got 25 more years to try and win major championships,” the world No 2 replied. “But I'm disappointed that I have not contended (in majors) since. I haven't given myself even a chance.
“I was in a good position at the Masters going into Saturday and shot a bad third round there and sort of blew myself out of contention.
“It would be great just to give myself a chance this week, get into contention and just feel that buzz again of getting into contention in a major and remembering how it feels.”
McIlroy tied for 40th at the Masters in April after closing with scores of 77 and 76. He then missed the cut at San Francisco's Olympic Club on his U.S. Open title defence and finished joint 60th at last month's British Open.
What especially rankled the Northern Irishman was that he had been playing superb golf heading into the Masters, posting four top-threes in his first five starts on the 2012 PGA Tour, including victory at the Honda Classic in March.
“Obviously I was very disappointed after the Masters, because I felt going into it that I was playing really well, playing great golf,” the 23-year-old said.
“I played a little scrappy the first two days but still got it around and was a couple off the lead going into the weekend. I felt like I had a great chance, so to fall away like that was disappointing.”
Asked to assess his 2012 campaign, McIlroy replied: “It's been good. There were a few goals I set myself early at the start of the year, which I achieved; getting to No. 1 in the world, playing well, winning a tournament early.
“The second half of the season has been a little bit more of a struggle but I feel like I'm playing pretty well. If I had to give my season a grade to this point, I'd probably give it a 'B'. And I've still got a lot of good golf to look forward to.”
McIlroy likes the look of the ultra-long, 7,676-yard Ocean Course at Kiawah Island which will host the year's final major.
“It's a long golf course, a big golf course, a golf course you not only have to hit it well, but you really have to think about what you're doing out there,” he said.
“You really have to pick your spots where you want to hit it, and obviously with the weather the way it's been this week, that's going to play a pretty big factor, too.
“But you know, I like what I see. I think the course is in phenomenal shape. I love the greens. I love the paspalum (grass). I think the ball rolls really, really well so I'm looking forward to the week.” – Reuters