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Rory McIlroy would prefer to live in the here and now. Forget about the conjecture, of who will or who won’t play in the moneyed superleague.
“I’m so sick of it,” said McIlroy of the proposed Saudi Arabia backed breakaway, adding: “You look at the people who have already said no. (Jon) Rahm, number one in the world. Collin Morikawa. Myself. You’ve got the top players in the world are saying ‘no’, so that has to tell you something.”
So, better to focus on what is happening. And McIlroy this week is part of a stellar field for the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club within touching distance of the bright lights of Hollywood in Los Angeles, where he is one of the box office attractions – with the top-10 ranked players in the world competing – in the PGA Tour event.
McIlroy is back with card in hand after a two weeks break following back-to-back events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in an event that effectively kickstarts his run-in to a latest quest to complete the career Grand Slam at the Masters in Augusta come April.
For the here and now, McIlroy is back at a venue that didn’t feature too often in the early part of his career but which is pencilled into the itinerary from an early part of his season’s planning: “Since I’ve started coming here, I’ve loved it. Loved the golf course. Loved the area. Loved the vibe. I feel like it’s a course that suits me really well and it’s sort of turned into a can’t-miss event . . . it’s one that you don’t want to miss.”
McIlroy’s only appearance so far on the wraparound 2021/’21 season was a winning one, in the CJ Cup last October, but his time away (taking a break, then playing the DP World Tour events in the Middle East) has meant he heads into this week’s tournament ranked only 23rd on the FedEx Cup standings and aiming to make up. “I’m one for one, a 100 percent record, so (I’ll) try to keep that going this week.”
In his last tournament, McIlroy was in contention to land the Dubai Desert Classic until a 3-wood approach to the 72nd hole found water and he ran up a bogey to finish a shot outside of a play-off in which Viktor Hovland beat Richard Bland.
“I made a bad swing at a bad time, but I did a lot of really good things in there that I can’t forget about. I tried to just focus on the couple negatives that were there and tried to work on those last week and felt like I’ve put in quite a bit of time and quite a bit of work since Dubai and my game actually feels pretty good coming here.
“(It is) in a much better place coming into this year at this event compared to last year. I didn’t play so well here last year and I was sort of searching a little bit for things, but my game feels a lot more settled this time around.”
He added: “I putted well (in Dubai), I chipped well, I hung in there, my mental game was really good. . . the things you have to do well to put a score together, I did, which is really encouraging because if that part of the game’s there, then minor tweaks here or there is all the difference you need between doing what I did and winning.”
In the here and now, another opportunity knocks.