Rory McIlroy feels he can come back better than ever in 2018. Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA via AP

ST ANDREWS – Rory McIlroy insists he is relaxed despite the possibility of ending this season winless, as he prepares for his final tournament of the season in Scotland.

Contested over three courses from Thursday, the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship is the Irishman’s chance to redeem an injury-dogged season with a 14th European Tour title and a long overdue 23rd career victory.

The world number six, who last tasted success at the 2016 Tour Championship on the PGA Tour, is seeking to keep alive a proud record of having won at least one tournament a year since 2009.

McIlroy arrived in Scotland after finishing as runner-up at last week’s British Masters near Newcastle, in north-east England.

“Sometimes your best isn’t quite good enough to get the win,” said the Northern Irishman. “A bit like last week. If someone had said to me ‘you’re going to shoot 17-under par this week’, I would have bitten their hand off on Thursday morning thinking that’s going to get the job done, and it didn’t quite get there.

“So, I’m not under pressure to win. The result, if you play well and things go your way, that takes care of itself.

“But it would just be nice to string a few more good rounds together and put in a performance, and that would be a nice way to end the year.”

McIlroy is also aware that despite 22 victories around the globe, he is yet to win in Scotland. He came closest when finishing in a tie for second at the 2014 Dunhill Links.

The 28-year-old’s 2017 season has been spoilt by injury and McIlroy, married this year, is looking forward to taking a lengthy break until mid-January 2018 to allow his rib injury to fully heal.

“In a golfing sense, it is a year I am looking forward to turning my back on,” he said.

“It has not been the year that I wanted, but a lot of great things have happened to me off the golf course, and 2017 will always be a year I remember because of that.

“It hasn’t been the year I wanted in terms of my career, but you’re going to have years that just don’t quite go your way. There are some things that are out of your control.

“I’ve tried my best to play well and persevere and play through an injury, and it just hasn’t quite happened for me.

“This year has just not been anywhere near as bad as the year I had in 2013, and I bounced back from that year pretty well the year after. Hopefully I can do the same next year I guess.”