Pros advice

Rory McIlroy still hungry to regain No.1 spot

Rory McIlroy has sent a stark warning to his rivals, revealing he’s still hungry to retain top spot in the World Rankings.

The Northern Irishman last topped the rankings chart in September 2015, but slipped off the pace to fourth behind Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day in 2016. Now, one year later, 28-year-old McIlroy is again fourth in the rankings behind Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama and Spieth, ahead of the defence of his Irish Open title this week in Portstewart.

Asked whether his flirting with the top of the rankings bothers him, McIlroy admitted: "Does it bother me? Yeah, look, it bothers me I'm not where I want to be. But I feel like there's been a couple of things that have been out of my control this year that have led to that with the injuries and stuff.

"Like I've said all along, winning golf tournaments and playing well takes care of the rankings. It's funny, I don't look at it as much now as I would if I was number one. If I was Dustin Johnson, I would be looking at that thing every Monday morning.

"I know where I am and I realise that I'm a long way off where I want to be, but I can't think about that at the minute. I just have to think about trying to win golf tournaments, trying to get in contention again at golf tournaments first of all."

McIlroy says sustained periods of excellence, such as Tiger Woods' 281-week run at the top of the World Rankings between June 2005 and October 2010, are very difficult to sustain.

"I think we were spoiled in the 2000s with Tiger," added McIlroy.

"There's been guys that have been able to play that level of golf for six months, nine months maybe, but not being able to keep that form for six, seven, eight years.

"I think that's testament to just how driven and how good Tiger was. I'd love to get to that point and being able to keep that for a long time. But I think you have to realise there are going to be ebbs and flows in your career.

"If you look at my career I've played in bursts, where I really get on for six months or nine months. And I'm not saying that I'm accepting that. I wish it was different. I wish I could sustain that and be able to keep that going for a longer period of time.

"It's nearly my 10th year as a pro, but the next 10 years is where I really want to start to make hay and win a lot of tournaments and be in contention in a lot of majors.

"I'm sort of hitting the prime of my career now, and I'd love to be able to get on a sustained run like Tiger did back then. It will take a lot of work, a lot of drive, a lot of practise, but I'm willing to do that."

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