Sports / Golf

Rory raring to go in Shanghai

By China Daily (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-03 07:26

World No 1 has his sights set on recapturing crown he won in 2011

A crucial phase of the season for the world's elite golfers, which includes the PGA Tour playoffs, the Ryder Cup before the Race to Dubai series gets underway with the BMW Masters from Oct 28-Nov 2 at Lake Malaren Golf Club, Shanghai.

As the crowning glory of the European Tour, this year's US Open and PGA Championship winner, Rory McIlroy, wants to celebrate even more titles in the home stretch of the season.

The four-time major winner won the Lake Malaren Shanghai Masters in 2011 and finished runner-up behind Sweden's Peter Hanson at the inaugural BMW Masters on the same course a year later. The world No 1 is well known for producing his best performances at big tournaments and has played his way into first place in the European Tour's Race to Dubai. The 25-year-old is sure to be a force to be reckoned with at the BMW Masters.

You've had such a good time at the Shanghai Masters winning in 2011 and finishing runner-up in 2012. Last year, was a different story. What went wrong and how do you feel coming into this year's tournament?

I wouldn't say anything went wrong in Shanghai last year. In fact, I'd say I was beginning to turn a corner and become more comfortable with my game as a whole. Just turning what were necessary tweaks into victories took a little longer than I'd planned. I hope that this year, coming off the back of some very important wins, I'll be a real contender at the Shanghai Masters. This is an important tournament for me and one I'd really like to claim again.

A year ago, there was a lot of chatter about your struggles with your swing. Obviously, you've quieted that down with your recent successes. Looking back, how did you persevere through those tough times and what do you credit most for your recent wins?

My swing has been pretty much the same all my professional life but it sometimes must go through slight changes. My body's changing shape as a result of growth and my fitness needs and I've adapted my swing accordingly. Belief in both my game and ability gets me through any doubts. My recent wins, I'd say, were a lot to do with practicing hard, remaining patient throughout a tournament and making shots when they mattered.

Do you calculate the amount of training time you put in per year? How many hours per day?

No, I don't sit down and calculate the hours I train. It's not really about how much time I spend training but the quality of the training and what I'm working on at the time. I'll not train as hard, for example, during tournaments but I'll pick it up again on weeks off.

Your recent PGA Championship win and duel with Phil Mickelson and Richie Fowler has been lauded as a classic. How do you keep your cool in such a high-pressure situation and do you like competing directly with other golfers in the same group in a final round like that?

All the hours of practice and tournament play - the wins and the losses - prepare me for such high-pressure times. It's really what it's all about: the back nine on a Sunday at a major. Of course we're all a bit on edge, with adrenaline pumping, but the thrill of the hunt or chase is why I - all of us - play golf.

After the victory in the PGA Championship, you now have a significant advantage on the Race to Dubai and FedEx Cup leaderboards. Do you think you can repeat the success of 2012?

Well, I'm enjoying a great run of form, so I really will try and keep that going for as long as I can. But there's a lot of golf to play until the season comes to an end. And just look at the quality of every field. It takes so much to keep ahead of those guys but the run of tournaments coming up will see us all trying really hard to win.

How much of a role does pure talent play in a golfer's career?

We always hear he or she is a great talent but there's a lot more to it. Athletes at the top of their games have great talent but it's the all-important work that goes on for many years that really counts. There's learning discipline, health and fitness and so much more to reaching and remaining at the highest end of sports. I don't think anybody gets to the top of sport, whatever it is, by talent alone.

You said Nick Faldo's major mark will be your next target. When do you think you will achieve two more major wins?

Yes, I have my eye on Sir Nick's fantastic total of six majors. But one at a time. Naturally, I'm going to go out in every major completely determined to win but I won't play with those records in my mind. If each win nudges me closer to, or even overtakes, another golfer's achievements, well and good.

Golf's going to be an Olympic medal sport again in 2016. How excited would you be to compete in Rio?

Golf's inclusion in the 2016 Olympics is so exciting and I'll see it as an honor to play for Ireland. As golfers, we don't get to represent our individual countries that often. The thought of competing and the possibility of picking up a gold will really motivate and inspire me in Brazil.

What about a victory most excites you? The prize money, the victory itself or something else?

It has always been about winning for me. I'm highly competitive and I always enter a tournament with a belief that I can win. I practice hard, concentrate on my fitness and nutrition and create for myself the best chance of winning. And, as it is more difficult to secure a victory in today's game given such high-quality fields at every event, winning has become even more satisfying and important.

 Rory raring to go in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the fourth hole during the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC of Boston on Sunday. He finished tied for fifth behind winner Chris Kirk. Mark Konezny / USA Today Sports

(China Daily 09/03/2014 page23)

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