Rory McIlroy is preparing to attack right from the word go when he begins his WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship campaign against Boo Weekley in the first round on Wednesday.
The Northern Irishman has declared that he is hitting the ball better than he has for a long time, and he is hoping to go one better at The Golf Club at Dove Mountain than two years ago, when he lost to Hunter Mahan in the final.
“You have to get off to a fast start,” said the 24 year old. “You have to be ready to go from the get go. If it’s a 72 hole stroke play event, the first six holes to nine holes you can just try to play your way into the round and there's a long way to go.
“But in 18 hole match play, you have to attack from the very start and be aggressive. Obviously you have to choose the right time to be aggressive, but you have to try to make as many birdies as you can.”
After near-misses in the Middle East last month – a tied runner-up finish in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship and tied ninth in the Omega Dubai Desert Classic – the two-time Major Champion has many reasons to fancy his chances in Arizona.
Comparing his form now to 12 months ago, when he was struggling with new clubs and lost in the first round to Shane Lowry, McIlroy said: “My game is much more settled. Everything is in a good place. The game is in great shape and I haven't hit the ball as well for a long time.
“I was a little disappointed with how I putted at the weekend in Dubai, so I’ve spent a couple of days with Dave Stockton here. We’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible and it feels really good.
“It was a good start to the season and I guess I've just tried to continue that over the last couple of weeks and practised hard. This is such a different format from what we’re used to, and it’s nice to have a change. I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully I can get past Boo tomorrow.”
McIlroy’s distance will be an advantage at Dove Mountain, particularly on the driveable par four 15th, but he warned that a razor sharp short game is required to succeed.
“The greens are a little firmer, so you’re going to have to chip the ball really well,” he said. “You’re going to have shots that bounce through the green. There’ll be times when you feel like you’ve hit a good shot but it might not be on the putting surface. So a good chipper will have an advantage this week.”