Rory McIlroy is aiming to underline his strong start to 2014 with a victory at this week’s WGC-Cadillac Championship after a second runner-up finish of the year last Sunday.
In three stroke-play events this season the Northern Irishman has finished second in Abu Dhabi, ninth in Dubai and was only beaten in a play-off at last week’s Honda Classic.
The two-time Major winner went to the final hole needing an eagle to win, and almost pulled it off after a magnificent five wood approach to six feet.
McIlroy missed the putt and was beaten by Russell Henley at the first extra hole, but despite that setback the former World Number One is keen to focus on the positives of being in contention again – something he aims to repeat over the Blue Monster course at Trump National Doral.
“Looking at last week as a whole, there are definitely a lot of positives to take,” he said.
“I think I was up there in putting in the statistical categories, I drove the ball really well.
“I was just disappointed with how I played coming down the stretch. It obviously wasn’t what I would have liked.”
“But plenty of positives - getting myself in position to win, it was my third stroke play event of the year, and third chance to win.
“If you keep giving yourself those chances, then hopefully learn from the mistakes, then you’re going to eventually walk through the door and win, and then when you get into the habit of it, it becomes a bit easier.
“But I feel like my game is there to get into contention again this week and that’s what I’ll try and do.”
McIlroy admitted that it can be difficult to train for the nerves of coming down the stretch in contention, but the Ryder Cup star feels more confident this week having competed at the top of the leaderboard regularly since winning the Australian Open at the end of 2013.
“For me, there’s no better way to prepare for that than to be in it,” he added. “I don’t think by putting yourself under pressure in a practice session or even playing Monday games with people, it’s not the same thing.
“So it’s just about putting yourself in that position week in, week out.
“I maybe just didn’t make as many committed swings as I should have at some points during the back nine last week.
“But I know that, and if I get myself into that position again this week, I’ll try and do a better job of seeing my shots and making more committed swings. I don’t think there’s anything that you can really do in practice that can replicate what you’re feeling on the back nine on Sunday.
“You’re not going to win every event that you play, but if you can give yourself at least a chance going into Sunday, then that’s all you can really ask of yourself.
“Giving yourself a chance and getting yourself into contention is what I expect of myself, and everyone knows that I didn’t do that enough last year at all. I’ve started this year better because I’ve been in contention every time that I’ve teed it up. So I’m happy with that.”