Rory McIlroy says he wants to continue to strengthen his legacy among the best golfers of the game as he looks to build on his return to the winner’s circle and challenge for a fifth Major Championship title at the 2022 U.S. Open.
The former World Number One posted a closing 62 on Sunday to win his 21st PGA TOUR title at the RBC Canadian Open.
The victory provided McIlroy with the ideal preparation for the third men’s Major of the year and the 33-year-old insists he has a lot more that he wants to achieve in the game.
“I hope I'm still building on my legacy,” McIlroy said.
“In golfing terms, I'm still youngish. Even though I've been out here for a long time, I've basically spent half my life on tour at this point. It's very important to me. It means a lot, going back to history and tradition and putting your name on trophies that have the legends of the game on them.”
Despite the ten birdies McIlroy registered in the final round, the Northern Irishman took particular satisfaction in the resolve he showed on the back nine amid competition from Justin Thomas and Tony Finau at St George’s Golf and Country Club in Toronto.
“It certainly puts a pep in your step,” McIlroy replied when asked whether the victory had raised his expectations ahead of the third men’s Major of the year.
“It gives you a lot of confidence. Going into last week, even coming off Memorial where I didn't have my best week, I still knew my game was there. I think it was the fashion in which I won last week which was what gave me the most pride.
“I got a lead early in the back nine. Lost that lead. Was tied with two holes to go, and then I showed some really good resilience and birdied the last two holes to get the job done. I think that the fashion in which I won was what made me the proudest of the victory.”
McIlroy’s two-shot victory saw him defend the title he won in 2019 and is hopeful he can now use the triumph as an impetus to impress this week at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts
“I did the same thing in 2019 going into the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach and played pretty well there,” he added. “I didn't play well enough to live with Gary that week, but I feel everything is certainly trending in the right direction, and I'm happy with where the game is at.”
McIlroy finished as the runner-up at the Masters Tournament in April, before he registered a top ten at the US PGA Championship last month and believes his game is in a place where it will stand up to the tests provided by the biggest events worldwide.
“My last two showings in major championships have been pretty good,” he said.
“That run at Augusta and then the start at Southern Hills was a very welcome one considering the starts I've had previously in Major Championships. So, I'm getting back to a place where I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with my game and a lot more comfortable at the… biggest and toughest tests in the world.
"I think my game is now at place where I feel confident going to these golf courses that are set up more difficult than everyday tour events and knowing that I have the game and the mentality to succeed on them.”
My last two showings in major championships have been pretty good
McIlroy will play alongside 2021 Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama and Olympic Gold Medallist Xander Schauffele in the first two rounds, with regular caddie Harry Diamond back on his bag following the birth of his second child.
“Harry and his wife had their second child last Thursday, so he got in last night, and he'll be on the bag this week,” he said. “Niall (O’Connor) and I's run has come to an end at this point. Pretty good record. Had a fourth in Dubai and a first in Canada. If I ever need someone to jump in for Harry, I've got a pretty good substitute there.”