Rory McIlroy is confident of winning more tournaments this year and retaining his newly-reclaimed world number one status.
The Irishman returned to top spot last week, despite not playing, as the man who recently replaced him, Masters and US Open winner Jordan Spieth, missed the cut at The Barclays.
But McIlroy, who won two majors last year, knows Spieth and US PGA Championship winner Jason Day are right behind him heading into this week’s Deutsche Bank Open in Boston.
McIlroy said: “I feel I am holding this ranking based on what I did last year but, hopefully, I can get another couple of wins before the end of the year and I feel I am playing well enough to do that.”
Day is now the game’s form player having followed up his PGA success by winning The Barclays, the first event of the FedEx Cup play-off series.
McIlroy feels there is very little to choose between them and believes the competition will force standards higher. Any of the three could be number one by the end of the week’s events in Boston.
McIlroy said: “I feel we are pretty close. I feel the level I played at last year, they saw that and attained that. It is about trying to set that bar a bit higher each year. That is probably what we will see over the next few years if guys keep pushing each other.”
McIlroy is still easing himself back into action after the ankle ligament injury suffered playing football with friends in the summer that cost him the chance of defending his Open title.
The 26-year-old said: “I am feeling good. I had a couple of weeks off after the PGA, just taking it nice and slowly and being patient with it. But I am excited to be back and feel my game is in good shape.”
Spieth had also been leading the PGA Tour’s FedExCup standings prior to last week’s rare failure. Day has now taken that place from him but Spieth says he is not motivated by any rivalry with the Australian or McIlroy.
He said: “I think we are all focused on our own goals. As one, two and three in the world we are the three that have to beat each other right now in order to get to the top or remain at the top.
“But I am not focused on what either are doing on the leaderboard unless they are in the lead, and then it is how I get up there and surpass them.”
Day may have earned plenty of plaudits in recent weeks but he does not feel he has done enough to earn the world number one spot yet. He said: “ I am playing good golf but with Rory coming back and Jordan, I can’t say I am. It wouldn’t feel right. The average is there for a reason. I have just got to keep playing well.”
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