McIlroy eyes breakthrough win but game still 'work in progress'

by Jim SLATER
Rory McIlroy is still struggling to find a killer edge this season despite a number of strong performances

Rory McIlroy yearns for a breakthrough victory after a season of near misses, with the four-time major winner hopeful this week's PGA Championship can launch his "work-in-progress" game to new heights.

"I'm giving myself chances nearly every week," McIlroy said Tuesday. "It's not as if my game's in bad shape at all. It's just I haven't won as much as I would have liked, but there's still plenty of time to change that."

McIlroy has risen to fifth in the world rankings ahead of Thursday's start of the year's final major tournament at Bellerive Country Club, trying to claim his first major title since the 2014 PGA.

"Where my game is, I feel like I've done as well as I could with what I have. It's still a work in progress," McIlroy said. "I'm still working on a few things in my swing and trying to iron a few kinks out.

"With a good week this week, it just puts a different spin on my year from being what some people see as disappointing to back on track and another major and going forward again."

One person expecting great things soon from McIlroy is European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn.

"You go through spells where you don't quite get over the line, but he's still contending every week, and I admire his patience and the way he goes about it," Bjorn said.

"He's in a place where it's going to go boom and then he's going to start winning a lot of golf tournaments again. Eventually when he wins that one, then I think he'll just start rolling again."

McIlroy won at Bay Hill in March but shared fifth at the Masters and second last month at the British Open, his eighth top-10 effort without a win in his past 14 major starts.

"It's certainly close," McIlroy said. "I've kept giving myself chances this year. I haven't closed out those tournaments as I would have liked, but at least I'm putting myself in position.

"The only thing I haven't done is win enough. I've given myself a lot of chances. I haven't played well enough when it has counted. I'm just trying to make that little step from contending and getting into final groups to lifting trophies."

- Kicking bad swing habits -

McIlroy learned last week at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, when he stumbled to a final-round 73 and shared sixth, that part of what makes him a strong driver is hurting his short game.

"What makes me so good with the driver is sometimes what makes me inconsistent with the wedges," McIlroy said. "So it's just about trying to find that blend."

McIlroy blamed injury and bad habits on detrimental swing changes.

"I'm trying to get back to the way I was the last time I won a major in 2014 at Valhalla. I think that's one of the best times I swung the club really well at that point in time," McIlroy said.

"I've gotten into a couple of bad habits and that just makes it a little tougher for me to be consistent with a shorter club in my hand. So I'm working on it. But it's a process."

McIlroy already has a process for what to do if he hoists the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

"Maybe I'll get to see the nightlife," he said. "And bring that Wanamaker into some of the bars."

Rory McIlroy is still struggling to find a killer edge this season despite a number of strong performances