Rory McIlroy believes he is in the best form of his life as he seeks a third win in succession and second major title in the space of four weeks in the US PGA Championship.
McIlroy headed to Valhalla back on top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013 after claiming his first World Golf Championship event in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday.
It is the third time the Open champion has taken top spot with a win, the first coming in the Honda Classic in March 2012 and the second later that year when he won the US PGA Championship.
That was one of five victories around the world which saw McIlroy finish top of the money list on both sides of the Atlantic, but the 25-year-old feels his Open triumph at Hoylake and victory at Firestone Country Club - both by two shots over the unfortunate Sergio Garcia - means he is playing at a higher level.
“This is better,” said McIlroy, who also came from seven shots behind to win the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth in May. “I’m more in control of my ball and my ball flight. Mentally, I’m really sharp.
“It was the most comfortable I’ve ever felt trying to close out a golf tournament out there (on Sunday). I felt normal. I felt like it was the first round or the second round. It didn’t feel like a fourth round.
“When I say mentally it’s the best I’ve ever been, I didn’t get ahead of myself. I didn’t start to think about my score. I didn’t think about where I was in the tournament. I just kept playing my shot after shot after shot.”
With Adam Scott narrowly failing to secure the top-five finish he needed to prevent McIlroy from overtaking him, the Northern Irishman’s lead at the top of the rankings is just 0.17 points.
But McIlroy is more focused on tournament victories than rankings, with plenty still to play for in the rest of the season.
“It’s a nice honour and it’s a nice title to have, but I don’t think you should go into tournaments thinking about it or thinking ‘Oh, this guy could pass me if I don’t finish in this position, or this guy could do this,’” McIlroy added.
“I think you just go and you play and you try to win golf tournaments, and if you win golf tournaments, the ranking takes care of itself. My goal now until the end of the year is just to try to win as many golf tournaments as I can. It’s not to try to finish number one in the world. It’s just to get as many titles as possible.
“I feel like the run of golf courses we’ve got coming up are going to suit me. I haven’t seen Valhalla, but from what I heard you need to hit it pretty long and drive the ball well.”
McIlroy certainly did that in Akron, leading the field in driving distance (334.8 yards) and also finishing joint first in greens in regulation at 79.17 per cent.
Asked if McIlroy was on the way to dominating the sport as Tiger Woods did in his prime, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley told Sky Sports 4: “There is no reason why not.
“That’s the best exhibition of driving I have ever seen from anybody in terms of length and accuracy. That golf course is very narrow off the tee and he is finding the fairway time after time at 340 yards.
“What I think is great is that Rory can hold his attitude where it is at now, it’s very much in the present, taking one week at a time. He’s never said he was chasing Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and that’s a great attitude, it takes the pressure off him and keeps him very much in the present where he needs to be.”