Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Rory McIlroy during the third round of World Golf Championships-Mexico  (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy during the third round of World Golf Championships-Mexico (Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy believes his best days are still to come as he strives to add to his Major Championship collection - starting at Bethpage State Park BK Course on Thursday.

The Northern Irishman already has four Major Championship victories to his name, including winning this event on two occasions in 2012 and 2014, and he is optimistic previous experience at the New York course will can give him the opportunity for number five.

The World Number Four finished tied for tenth on his U.S. Open debut in 2009 before two further appearances at the course resulted in ties for 19th and 34th. With the course playing 7,459 yards, McIlroy is confident the course suited to his style of play.

However, he is not putting extra pressure on himself for immediate Major Championship success after turning 30 earlier this month.

"Fairways are very much a premium this week," he said. "I played 11 holes yesterday, and you have to hit the ball in the fairway. I think that's a big stat.

I still believe my best days are ahead of me for sure - Rory McIlroy

"With the rain we've had the last couple of days, the length will definitely help. It's a long golf course, 7,500 yards, par 70, and it plays even longer with the cold and wet conditions. Length is definitely going to be a big factor this week.

"I think I have a good chance. I've had a pretty good record at the US PGA Championship, a couple of wins and a couple other decent finishes.

"We're playing at a golf course that I like, that I've had some experience on. I know if I play the way I can, hopefully I'll have a chance.

"My body is as good as it has been in a couple of years, which I'm really grateful for. Every week that I tee it up, I feel like I'm gaining more experience that I can put into the next tournament and the next tournament. I still believe my best days are ahead of me for sure."

McIlroy agreed with defending champion Brooks Koepka's opinion that Major Championships can be easier to win as players struggle under the magnitude of the occasion, but insisted he treated each tournament with the same respect.

"I think Jack Nicklaus said the same thing a lot of years ago, and he didn't do too badly in them, either," McIlroy said.

"I can definitely see that point. Honestly, I try to treat every tournament the same. It's 72 holes, it's 18 holes a day. It is no different than any other golf tournament we've played. 

"I've played hundreds of golf tournaments if not thousands of golf tournaments in my life, and I honestly just try to treat them all the same."

McIlroy is also happy to see Bethpage State Park BK Course reward positive strokes and is eager to sample the New York atmosphere before the course becomes the 2024 Ryder Cup host.

"I think the setup is very fair," he added. "I think you get rewarded for good shots. The greens aren't too slopey. You get rewarded for good shots, and you get punished for bad ones.

"I feel sometimes at Major Championships courses are brought to the edge, and sometimes good shots are punished.

"A Ryder Cup here is five years away, but I think they're planning on letting 60,000 in a day here this week, so it'll be pretty loud."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KOEPKA, BrooksUSA18-8
2JOHNSON, DustinUSA18-6
T3SPIETH, JordanUSA18-2
T3CANTLAY, PatrickUSA18-2
6LIST, LukeUSA18-1

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