LONDON (Reuters) - Former world number one Rory McIlroy believes the confidence he will gain from his BMW PGA Championship victory at Wentworth could act as a launch pad to get him back on top of the rankings.
The 25-year-old shrugged aside the midweek heartache of breaking off his planned wedding to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki by winning the European Tour’s flagship event by one stroke from Ireland’s Shane Lowry on Sunday.
“I think it’s the start of something,” twice major winner McIlroy told reporters after his emotional triumph lifted him from 10th to sixth in the world. “I could feel my game sort of bubbling and it was getting there - a win validates that.
“The game is waiting for one or two guys just to kick on. I’d like to be that guy and I’d like to think this is a springboard to doing something like that.
“There are still three majors to play this year, a lot of golf left,” McIlroy said after becoming the first Northern Irishman to land the coveted BMW PGA title in the 60th edition of the championship.
“There are a lot of big tournaments to try and win, so even though we’re nearly halfway through the season I feel like mine’s just beginning.”
McIlroy’s Ryder Cup team mate Luke Donald, who dunked his second shot into the water at the last as he strained for the eagle three that would have forced a playoff, said the wedding may have been on the Northern Irishman’s mind for some time.
“My guess is that it wasn’t a decision to break up with Caroline which just came out of the blue,” said Donald after finishing in third place, two shots behind the winner.
“I’m sure it has been weighing on his mind for a while and maybe just getting it out released something.
“The raw emotions were still there this week but being out on the golf course, a place he’s familiar with, maybe he could forget those a little bit.”
The big-hitting McIlroy returns to the U.S. Open next month, the first major he won back in 2011, and is looking forward to taking on the Pinehurst No. 2 course in North Carolina.
“I can only go on what I’ve read and what I’ve heard about Pinehurst because I’ve never been there,” he said. “I hear it’s going to be a long, long golf course.
“I don’t mind that at all, getting my driver in the hand would suit me.”
McIlroy flies back across the Atlantic to continue his U.S. Open preparations by competing at this week’s $6.2 million Memorial Tournament in Ohio.
The Northern Irishman also has his eye on Europe’s Ryder Cup defense against United States in Scotland in September.
McIlroy said he spent some time talking tactics with captain Paul McGinley at the BMW PGA Championship.
“I was speaking to Paul on Saturday just before I went out to play, talking about pairings and what he’s thinking,” he added after landing the sixth European Tour victory of his career but the first on the mainland.
“The way he was talking, even without this win, it sounded like I was going to be on the team,” laughed McIlroy.
“It’s going to be great. I think I’m pretty much cemented on the team now and I’m looking forward to that.”
Editing by John O'Brien