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Tuesday 6 December 2016

Rory McIlroy: 'Win one major every two year? I can do more than that'

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy looked almost offended when it was put to him during last week's Irish Open that Ernie Els expected him to win at least 10 more majors in the next 20 years.

"One every two years? I'd like to think so," McIlroy said after doing the maths in his head. "My game is in good shape. I'm motivated. There's no reason why I can't compete and give myself chances in a lot more majors.

"I've got three more majors this year. I think two of those, I have good chances on. I know the courses well. I've played well on them before."

Given the fact that McIlroy has already won three times in 2015 and claimed the third and fourth major titles of his career last year, it is no surprise that the world number one remains confident in his abilities.

But given the fact that those three majors take place on links courses at St Andrews, Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits, it is by no means certain that McIlroy will be adding more silverware to his trophy cabinet this year. (Whether Chambers Bay and Whistling Straits are "true" links courses is a debate for another time).

Despite growing up on links courses in Northern Ireland, McIlroy has made no secret of the fact that his game is not ideally suited to such a test, especially when the wind blows.

The 26-year-old famously followed an opening 63 at St Andrews in the 2010 Open with a second round of 80, albeit in gale-force winds, while he complained about tournaments where the "the outcome is predicted so much by the weather," after the 2011 Open at Sandwich.

Last week came another round of 80 at a windswept Royal County Down, but there were encouraging signs in his analysis of what went wrong, as well as in a second round of 71.

As pointed out by a member of the television commentary team, McIlroy was adjusting his game too much for the wind, hitting every shot with a sawn-off follow through to keep the ball down rather than using the wind when it was in his favour.

That led to the extraordinary sight of the world number one hitting his second shot to the 130-yard par-three seventh from the middle of the sixth fairway, but McIlroy recognised the problem himself and was two under par for 14 holes on Friday before a double bogey on the tough 15th ended his chances of making the halfway cut.

With no competitive golf between now and the US Open, the odds may be against McIlroy winning his fifth major at an unfamiliar Chambers Bay, but having finished third at St Andrews in 2010 and third at Whistling Straits a month later, that target of one major every two years looks well within his grasp.

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