(Reuters) – Rory McIlroy, who was unable to close out victory in the European Tour’s 2021 opener last week, is hopeful an ambitious tournament schedule will help him get more comfortable with his game as he looks to snap a 15-month victory drought.
World number seven McIlroy will be the third-highest ranked player competing in this week’s Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Club in San Diego, which will be the second of seven tournaments over an eight-week span for the Northern Irishman.
McIlroy has not competed on the PGA Tour since earning a share of fifth place at last November’s Masters that motivated him to cram his playing schedule to start 2021 after what he described as a quiet spell since Augusta.
“I felt like I sort of stopped last year on quite a positive note the way I played at Augusta and I just wanted to try to keep that going into the start of this year,” McIlroy, 31, said on Wednesday.
“I feel like the more I play, the more I’ll get comfortable with my game and know where it is. Yeah, I just thought it was a good opportunity to sort of hit the ground running this week.”
McIlroy, who will play the first two rounds this week alongside four-times major champion Brooks Koepka and 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Matthew Wolff, has top-five finishes in his only two Farmers Insurance Open starts.
“It’s long, so I think I can take advantage of my length pretty well,” McIlroy said of the South Course at Torrey Pines, which will also host this year’s U.S. Open in June.
“Then if I’m on with my irons, I feel like the greens are maybe a little smaller on average than what we get week in, week out on Tour, so with the second shots it’s — if you’re feeling it with your irons, you can really take advantage of that.”
While McIlroy expects the South Course to be set up much tougher come June, he feels a good showing this week could prove beneficial in his quest for a second U.S. Open triumph.
“If I can go out and play well and shoot three good scores on the South this week, it will give me some confidence going into June,” said four-times major champion McIlroy.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)