It’s all go for January after the R&A and USGA published their finalised Rules of Golf. So what’s coming in? Steve Carroll outlines the changes.
McIlroy reveals where his goals for 2015 are kept
You need only to look in his eyes to know that Rory McIlroy means business. From the moment he steps foot onto the greens, whether it’s defending Europe’s pride in the Ryder Cup, or tussling for position at Augusta, the World No.1 leaves nobody in any doubt as to the reasons he’s on the field.
It’s a drive and determination borne from years of knowing what he wants and working hard to achieve that goal. We don’t know what those goals might be, of course, but we can surely guess: winning silverware, holding firm atop the World Rankings, going the whole season without suffering defeat. At the end of the day, though, it is the man himself who sets the bar. And his goals remain a closely-guarded secret.
However, those goals might be closer than you think…
Speaking in Abu Dhabi ahead of the HSBC Golf Championship this Thursday, McIlroy revealed: “Every year I fly out and do a week or 10 days of preparation in Dubai before this tournament. I write my goals down on the back of my boarding pass, put it in my wallet and I memorise them. I don’t look at them again until the end of the year.
“So in my back pocket in my wallet is a boarding pass with my goals for this year. I don’t really want to share them with anyone else. They are just my little goals; I’ll try and achieve those and I’ll take that boarding pass out at the end of the year and see how well I’ve done.”
Despite McIlroy keeping his goals a close guarded secret, he did elaborate a little, saying this year there are seven on the list. He also admitted to falling short of achieving all his targets in any previous year.
“Last year I wanted to have six worldwide wins. I only had four,” added the Nike golfer. “I aim pretty high. Once I don’t need the cards any more, they are just discarded.”
He added with a smile: “It’s funny, the [seat] numbers have gradually gotten less and less. It was 13B, 12A ... so that has been nice.”
McIlroy hopes to be included in five tournaments before the Masters this year, which could potentially include the Bay Hill International for the first time.
“I know what to anticipate leading up to Augusta,” McIlroy said. “And for me it’s about trying to treat it the same way I have done [before] and not put any more emphasis on it than there already is.
“It’s the first major of the year. People have been waiting for eight months for a major to come around. There’s so much buildup and hype going into Augusta anyway.
“So it’s just about making sure I’m as well prepared as I possibly can be going into that event, and I feel like I’ve got a good routine and mental strategy going into majors now where I try not to let too much affect me. I try not to look at too much stuff and really just go into my own little world for those weeks.
“It’s been working pretty well, so I’ll try to just keep doing what I’ve been doing and keep to my routines, and if I can do that, that will give me the best possible chance to play well that week.”
McIlroy looking to avoid Penalty Pain in Abu Dhabi
McIlroy has some unsavoury history playing in Abu Dhabi, having suffered two rule penalties in his last three appearances. On both occasions the sanctions cost him victory, a fact the Northern Irishman is still frustrated about.
And the field this year is buzzing with talent, including COBRA Golf’s Rickie Fowler, Callaway’s Henrik Stenson and TaylorMade’s Martin Kaymer and Justin Rose. Fowler and McIlroy will partner Matteo Manassero for the opening two rounds.
“I think one of the goals this week is just to have no penalty shots when I don’t need them, and see where I end up at the end of the week,” said McIlroy. “I know they have made a few changes to it but it’s a golf course I’ve always felt comfortable on, one that has suited me, and I have played well here in the past. I think this is my eighth year in a row starting the season off here, so I’m pretty familiar with the place and looking forward to another strong start to the season.”