Rory McIlroy wants 'bounce' back for US PGA defence at Oak Hill

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McIlroy Interview

US PGA Championship

Venue:
Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York
Dates:
8-11 August
Coverage:
Updates on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday & Friday; Live from 21:00 BST on 5 live sports extra on Saturday; Live from 21:00 BST on 5 Live on Sunday; daily live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

Rory McIlroy has been gearing up for the US PGA with videos of past glories in a bid to rediscover the form that took him to a record win last year.

The Northern Irishman clinched his second major by eight shots at Kiawah Island and ended the season top of the rankings on both sides of the Atlantic.

But McIlroy has struggled this year and Tiger Woods is favourite after winning his fifth title of the year on Sunday.

"I'd love to get my game back and be able to challenge him," said McIlroy.

World number one Woods won the last of his 14 major titles five years ago but his seven-shot win in Ohio gave an ominous indication of the state of his game ahead of the year's final major, in upstate New York.

Defending champion McIlroy has cut a dejected figure on the course at times this season with a string of poor results following a multi-million dollar change of equipment, a high-profile lifestyle with tennis player girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and legal issues with his management company.

At the Open, he spoke of feeling "unconscious" and making "brain dead" decisions after a first-round 79 on the the way to missing the cut.

"I've been watching a few videos of last year at Kiawah and watching some videos of some of my best weeks that I've played and it sort of lifted me a little bit and I took some good things away from that," said McIlroy at his pre-tournament news conference at Oak Hill.

"I just haven't been swinging it the best this year. I got into a couple bad habits with my golf swing and it's just taken me a little bit longer to get out of them. When you're fighting that so much, it's hard to play the golf that I want to play, which is fluid and free-flowing. That's the way I play my best.

"I think everyone sees when I walk and I'm playing well, I have that little bounce in my step, so just trying to get that going again and trying to get that positive energy back. There's been times this year where I've really gotten down on myself and that's something that hasn't helped at all, and something that I'm trying to get better at.

"But I'm sitting here as confident as I have been all year, so I'm looking forward to getting going this week."

McIlroy, the world number three, experienced a similar "slump" before his US PGA win last year before going on a remarkable end-of-season run that yielded further back-to-back wins in the US.

"I love proving people wrong," said the 24-year-old, who hosted a dinner for past US PGA champions at Oak Hill on Tuesday. "I loved sitting up here last year on the Sunday night and I proved a lot of people wrong."

US Open champion Justin Rose says he is determined not to be a one-major wonder as he looks to move on from his triumph at Merion.

The 33-year-old Englishman admits he was not fully prepared for the Open at Muirfield last month and subsequently missed the cut.

"I think it's the back-slapping you get from everybody, which is obviously very nice," Rose said.

"But it also in some ways can prevent you from staying fully focused on what's ahead. People want to keep talking about Merion.

"I feel like it's something to look back on at the end of my career. All of us at this point in our career need to have our heads down, need to play as hard as you can, need to amass as much success as you can.

"I feel like I'm back to being really in the present and motivated for the rest of the year."

Open champion Phil Mickelson is another hoping for a final-day showdown with Woods at Oak Hill.

The 43-year-old's first Claret Jug, and fifth major in all, means he has now won three of the game's four major titles with just the US Open missing.

The left-hander has been second in the US Open a record six times, including behind Rose at Merion in June, and is desperate to complete the career Grand Slam after clinching what he called the "most elusive" title for him to win at Muirfield.

"I think the Open really changed some of my perception of myself as a player," said the world number two.

"I think that had I won another green jacket [at the Masters], that would not have done the same thing as what winning the Claret Jug has done, because in my mind it is an accomplishment in my career that makes me more of a complete player.

"I feel very confident in my ability to get the ball in play off the tee and I feel very confident in my ability on the greens now; where I've turned weaknesses into strengths, I believe, and this serves me well in major championships.

"I'm as motivated as ever to compete and to get the best golf out of me to hopefully play against Tiger when he's playing his best. That would ultimately be the goal; if I can play as well as I can at the same time he's doing the same, I would love that opportunity."

Woods has a 13:35 BST start alongside 2011 winner Keegan Bradley and 2012 US Ryder Cup captain Davis Love, while McIlroy is due off at 18:25 BST on Thursday with former champions Vijay Singh and Martin Kaymer.

Mickelson is also among the later starters and has been grouped, as is traditional, with the other two majors winners of 2013, Masters champion Adam Scott and England's US Open champion Rose.

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