McIlroy 'not even thinking about' losing No. 1 ranking

Rory McIlroy is more focused on fine-tuning his game than trying to fend off the four players who can unseat him from the No. 1 world ranking at the Memorial Tournament this week.

McIlroy played in the first three events after the PGA Tour resumed play. However, he struggled to regain the form that saw him post seven consecutive top-five finishes before the hiatus created by the coronavirus pandemic.

After tying for 32nd, tying for 41st and tying for 11th, McIlroy took a scheduled week off. He planned to return for last week’s Workday Charity Classic, which also took place at Muirfield Village Golf Club, site of this week’s tournament. But instead he opted to connect with coach Michael Bannon, whom he hadn’t seen since February.

“I just needed to do a little bit of work on my game,” McIlroy said Wednesday. “It was nice to spend some time with him and get some good work done and feel a bit better about my game and my swing going into this week, and then obviously looking ahead to the next couple of months.”

Spain’s Jon Rahm and Americans Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and Webb Simpson all have opportunities to snatch the No. 1 ranking away from McIlroy this week.

The Northern Irishman is making his ninth start at the Memorial, where he has recorded four top-10 finishes.

“The ranking I’m not even thinking about,” McIlroy said. “I’m just trying to play well.

“I’m excited to get going. Obviously if I play well, then the ranking takes care of itself, and all I’m thinking about doing this week is playing well and putting up some good numbers.”

McIlroy attributed some of his substandard results in returning to competition coming from playing at courses he wasn’t familiar with and getting used to playing without fans in attendance. He called it “dipping my toes back in the water again,” and admitted his mind wandered a bit during the first few tournaments back in competition.

McIlroy won’t feel the buzz from a packed crowd this week, but he will play the first two rounds in a marquee group with Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka.

“If anything, I’ve realized personally that it’s very hard for me to keep focus out here,” McIlroy said. “I feel like when there’s fans and there’s that energy and the atmosphere, it’s easy to get into that mindset that you need to get into, right, like that’s what we’re used to, that’s what we do.

“But I think fans or no fans, if you’re in with a chance to win a tournament, I think you’re going to feel it regardless.”

Field Level Media