The world No 2 landed the Deutsche Bank Championship then the Tour Championship in September to secure the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup after seeking advice from putting guru Phil Kenyon. He is now hoping to round off his 2016 campaign on the European Tour on a similar note.
With Henrik Stenson, Danny Willett and now Alex Noren all ahead of him in the standings, McIlroy may have just a slim chance of claiming the Race to Dubai title for the third consecutive year, but retaining the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates is certainly achieveable.
His press conference ahead of the $8 million event starting tomorrow was a mixture of reflection and reasoning.
Asked what he’d learned most from the year, he replied: “Sometimes not to be too proud. I felt like I went long enough without asking advice on putting because that was the thing letting me down.
“I really needed a second opinion, but I was too stubborn. I wanted to figure it out on my own because I always feel if you figure something out on your own, you take ownership of it and it’s yours. Sometimes you need a second opinion. I got that in August, and it really turned the season round for me.”
McIlroy described his year overall as “pretty good and consistent” but admitted that he’d not achieved his goals in the game’s biggest events. “My play in majors was disappointing, particularly missing the cut at the US Open and the US PGA,” said the 27-year-old. “I had a top five at The Open, but that was soon forgotten because of what Henrik [Stenson] and Phil [Mickelson] did. Going into next year I’d like to think my performances in the majors are going to be better.”
His preparation for the first of those – The Masters in April – is certainly going to be thorough. McIlroy will start his 2017 campaign in the South African Open then return to the UAE for the HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship and the Omega Dubai Desert Classic. He’ll then play the Genesis Open in Los Angeles, the Honda Classic in Florida, the WGC-Mexico Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill then the WGC-Dell Match Play in Texas.
“It’ll be the busiest I’ve been going up to Augusta, but because I’m taking four weeks off after that I feel like it’s a good time to be busy and play a lot,” he said, hinting that the European Tour’s flagship event, the BMW PGA Championship, is also likely to be back on his schedule next year. McIlroy won at Wentworth in 2014 but finished 106th the following year then gave it a miss this season. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see me back at Wentworth next year,” he said, admitting that the latest re-design of the West Course might “help” in that particular decision.