World number one Rory McIlroy insists he does not feel “unbeatable” despite looking to claim his third win in four events by successfully defending his BMW PGA Championship title
McIlroy began a run of five straight events by winning the WGC-Cadillac Match Play in San Francisco, before recording a third successive top-10 finish at the Players Championship.
The 26-year-old thought about withdrawing from the Wells Fargo Championship but returned to the scene of his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow, shot a course-record 61 in the third round and won by seven shots.
And now the four-time major winner is back where it all began 12 months ago with a victory in the European Tour’s flagship event, which came just days after he called off his wedding to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, even though the invitations had just been sent.
“This is a tournament that I wasn’t sure I’d ever win in my career just because of my relationship with the West Course,” admitted McIlroy, who was ranked 10th in the world at the time and had missed the cut at Wentworth in 2012 and 2013.
“I got the win here in weird circumstances and this is what kick-started everything really.
“It was a real catalyst. I felt like I was playing well before that, but I wasn’t able to turn good finishes into wins. I did not expect to play like I did last summer. I could never have imagined what would unfold over the space of four or five weeks.”
Those few weeks saw McIlroy win his first Open Championship at Royal Liverpool and a second US PGA title at Valhalla, with a first WGC title in between, and he has carried on where he left off in 2015 with three victories so far.
Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer, who enjoyed equally impressive wins in the Players Championship and US Open last year, admitted players can feel “unbeatable” when they are on such runs of form.
But McIlroy added: “I don’t feel I’m unbeatable, that’s for sure. Golf is a very fickle game and it can humble you quite quickly. I’ve got off to a good start, three wins already this season.
“(But) I would be disappointed if I wasn’t to win one of the next three majors. I think that’s really what determines a good or a great season for me these days.”
Two of McIlroy’s major victories have been by eight shots and he again left the field trailing in his wake at Quail Hollow, but the Northern Irishman insists he does not care how hard he has to work to win.
“I’ve always said I’ll take wins any way I can get them, whether it’s by one shot or in a play-off or by seven shots like last week,” he added.
“I feel like now I’m a player that can win all different sorts of ways, which I’m happy about. I can be in contention and gut it with a few other players or separate myself.
“I separated myself from the field on Saturday, so I went out on Sunday and I didn’t need to do much. I still shot a solid round of golf and I shot in the 60s, but it was sort of a stress-free 18 holes.
“But at the same time, I know if I hadn’t have quite separated myself from the field on Saturday, I still would have had a great chance to win because I just feel like a much better player in that position.”
McIlroy will play one more event, next week’s Irish Open at Royal County Down where his foundation is acting as tournament host, before the US Open at Chambers Bay in June.
“My mind is focused on the next two weeks here and at the Irish Open,” he added. “I just want to try and finish off this stretch of golf as well as I can, and I get a couple weeks off after that.
“Then I’ll start to think about the US Open and get ready for that.
“I’ll probably go and take a look at Chambers Bay a little bit ahead of time. But now just fully focused on these two weeks and try to play as well as I can here, and then I’ll put the clubs away for a few days and then I’ll turn my attention to the US Open.”