August 31, 2017 / 11:55 PM / 2 years ago

McIlroy upbeat ahead of title defense in Boston

(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy is winless this season but hopeful a return to a familiar stomping ground at this week’s Dell Technologies Championship in Boston will provide him a springboard to another FedExCup playoffs title.

FILE PHOTO: Aug 26, 2017; Old Westbury, NY, USA; Rory Mcilroy taps in for par on the 13th hole during the third round of The Northern Trust golf tournament at Glen Oaks Club. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

World number four McIlroy has been hit with injury this year and will be shutting things down in due course but could not resist defending his title at TPC Boston starting on Friday in the second of the PGA Tour’s four lucrative playoff events.

“I’m a big believer that it is a little bit horses for courses like you hear, and Boston is definitely a track that sets up well for me,” McIlroy said on Thursday.

“I’ve been lucky enough to win at a couple of courses multiple times in my PGA Tour career, and I think just mentally you’re just a lot more comfortable.

“You’ve hit great shots on that golf course before, you’ve shot low scores, and you’ve seen birdies out there. That’s the thing — once you know you can make birdies on a golf course, it makes it easier to do that again.”

Two weeks ago McIlroy cited spasms in a muscle in his upper back and said he was not sure when he would play next, going as far as to say it might not be until next year.

After last year’s win in Boston, the Northern Irishman went on to clinch the $10 million bonus as he topped the standings after winning the season-ending Tour Championship.

“I sort of find myself in a similar position this week as I was last year, needing a good week to sort of kick-start the next few weeks,” said McIlroy.

“Hopefully I can find that little spark that I found last year and go on and play well from here until the Tour Championship.

McIlroy, who is grouped with South Korean Kim Si-woo and American Ollie Schniederjans for the first two rounds, is now trying to avoid what would be only his second full winless season since turning professional.

“It would just be nice to get a win before I shut it down for a while. I feel like I’m capable. It’s not as if I’m out there making it any worse,” said McIlroy.

“Of the courses that we have coming up, I definitely feel the most comfortable on this one so if I didn’t get myself into the mix it would definitely be a lost opportunity.”

World number one Dustin Johnson leads the FedExCup standings after winning the series opener, the Northern Trust, in Old Westbury, New York on Sunday.

This week’s field features the top 100 players in the standings. The top 70 after Monday’s final round advance to the penultimate event to be played Sept. 14-17 at Conway Farms in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ian Ransom

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