Rory McIlroy heads to his final event of the year at the Tiger Woods-hosted World Challenge this week saying he is in a “better place” mentally after winning his first tournament of 2013.
The Co Down man overhauled crowd favourite and reigning US Masters champion Adam Scott with a final round 66 to win the Australian Open on Sunday by a shot with an 18-under-par tally.
It was his first victory for more than 12 months and came at the expense of the popular Australian, who misjudged the wind and could only manage a bogey on the last hole at Royal Sydney.
“I’ve just felt in a better place, a better place mentally with some things off the course,” McIlroy said.
Despite early season woes after his much-publicised switch of clubs from Titleist to Nike, McIlroy has slowly begun rekindling the form that earned him two major victories, finishing sixth and fifth in his final two European Tour events.
“It’s been a frustrating year because you know the level of golf that you can play and you’re just not able to play to that level,” he said.
“When you’re working hard and you’re trying to find the reasons why, and you think you’ve found it and then you haven’t, so then you try something else, that’s frustrating but I never lost belief, I never lost any of that.
“Golf’s a long career and I’m 24 years old,” added McIlroy, who this year split from his management company and recently settled a dispute with sportswear manufacturer Oakley.
“I get a little impatient at times and if I actually just took a step back and looked at the bigger picture, it hasn’t been too bad a year. It’s obviously been made a lot better with the win. You know you have to go through the lows and I’m not saying it was a low this year. It’s not like I plummeted off the face of the earth. I’m still sixth in the world so it’s not too bad. It’s not the level that I feel like I can play to, but I feel I’m getting back there, so it’s very pleasing.”
The World Challenge is being played in California, featuring an elite 18-man field.
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