Rory McIlroy cannot wait to get started at the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship, even though he admits the format of the event can catch players unaware at times.
The 2011 US Open Champion takes on in-form South African George Coetzee in the first round tomorrow, aware that a poor start could well put paid to his chances of success in the tournament.
Ahead of his opening match, McIlroy said: “I always look forward to this event every year. It’s a little bit of a change from what we usually play.
“We only get to play match play a couple of times a year. You need to be pretty aggressive from the start and try to get off to a good start. It would be nice to get into a good run this week.
“Eighteen holes of golf – anything can happen. You can be five or six under par and lose or you can play mediocre and win.
“I don’t mind losing a match if you don’t play well and you don’t deserve to win. When you feel like you have done all you can and still come up on the wrong side, it’s pretty tough to take sometimes.”
“That’s the nature of this format, and I think that’s why everyone sort of enjoys watching it.”
McIlroy can move to the summit of the Official World Golf Rankings if he wins this week and Luke Donald falls at the first or second hurdle.
However, the Ulsterman is aware he must improve after being knocked out in the second round on his previous two visits to Arizona.
“I’ve been put out in the second round the last couple of years, so it would be nice to get off to a good start here,” he acknowledged. “It would be nice to advance to the weekend at least and see what can happen from there.
“The further you get into this tournament, it's nice. You turn up on the Friday morning and there is only 16 guys here, the Saturday morning, there's only 8 guys. As you progress through it gets smaller around smaller.”
Asked about opening opponent Coetzee, McIlroy added: “He’s been playing well the last couple of weeks. To be honest, that’s all I really know about it. “I have seen him up there on leaderboards.
“There is no easy match in this tournament, especially over 18 holes. Anyone can beat anyone. You are going to have to be on the top of your game for basically the whole week if you want to have a chance to win.”
For the first time in the history of the event, all four top seeds this week are European, with McIlroy and Donald joined by Lee Westwood, who can also take over as World Number One this week, and Martin Kaymer.
“I think things like this just go in cycles,” said McIlroy. "And you know, seeing someone like Lee get the Number One and then Martin and Luke. You see those guys do it, and you're sort of thinking to yourself if they can get there, so can I. I think that's got a little bit to do with it as well.”