Rory McIlroy is determined to end 2019 with the largest trophy haul in a year of his career, while he remains confident of chasing down Brooks Koepka at the top of the world rankings.
McIlroy headlines a strong field for this week’s BMW PGA Championship in May, after which he has four events remaining this year to meet his lofty targets, starting with the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland next week.
His victory at the Tour Championship last month earned him his third title of the season, following his earlier wins at The Players Championship and the RBC Canadian Open, and he believes he can at least match the five victories he achieved in 2014 – which included his maiden win at Wentworth.
When asked about his prospects of regaining the world No 1 ranking for the first time in four years, McIlroy said: “I don’t know if that’s realistic, but it’s definitely to get closer. I’ve got an opportunity over the next few weeks where there’s a lot of World Ranking points in Japan and China and Dubai at the end of the year.
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“So my goal is to get closer, just to try to keep progressing and get a couple more wins. I feel like I’m playing well enough. The most I’ve ever won in a season is five, so I’d love to at least equal that and try to better that.
“So yeah, it’s just keep going and try not to let my foot off the pedal and finish the year the way I started it, on a very positive note. Then I can really enjoy the off-season, or whatever off-season we have in December and January, reset and go again.”
McIlroy admitted he had to “drag myself off the couch” last week to get in some practice after taking a break following his play-off defeat at the Omega European Masters, which was his seventh event in a punishing eight-week schedule.
And he also raised concerns about the calendar being more congested next year, with the Olympic Games in Tokyo and the Ryder Cup to take into consideration.
First round tee times
Groups and starting times for the opening round of the BMW PGA Championship
“It’s been quite tough, I’m not used to playing this much golf in a short period of time,” he added. “You used to play a couple weeks on, take a couple weeks off, play another couple weeks, but I think I played like 13 tournaments in a 16-week stretch.
“So it’s a lot of golf, and it’s something we’re going to have to get used to. It’s the new schedule, especially when you throw in the Olympics next year and The Ryder Cup and everything else.
“It’s just going to be so congested in that middle part of the year. That’s why I needed those two weeks on the sofa, just to sort of reset and get myself in the right place mentally to get motivated to go again for this last little bit of the year.”
McIlroy also has mixed opinions on the new major schedule, with one major per month from the Masters in April through to The Open in July, after which there is a gap of over 260 days until major golf returns at Augusta National.
“There’s so many different entities in the game and they are all pulling in different directions, and at some point or another, something is not quite going to work,” he said. “So I think it’s the way it is for a while.