Former world No1 Rory McIlroy has scotched claims that he has lost his edge, insisting he is as hungry as ever to add to his tally of four Majors at the Open Championship this week.
McIlroy tees off at Royal Birkdale on Thursday in desperate need of a change in fortunes, having failed to win this season and missed three cuts in his last four events, including last month’s US Open.
A persistent rib injury has played havoc with his form, while former US PGA champion Steve Elkington remarked that the Northern Irishman looked “bored” during his meek showing at the most recent Major.
That drew a pithy retort from McIlroy at the time, and the 28-year-old reiterated on Wednesday that his array of achievements – including a Claret Jug in 2014 – had only further fired his ambition.
“A second Open Championship isn’t going to change my life, but I want to win. I’m still as ambitious now as I was starting off my career, if not more so, because I know what I’ve achieved and I can achieve,” he said.
McIlroy, who is set to play his first two rounds alongside world No1 Dustin Johnson and former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, won the Silver Medal for the best-placed amateur on his Open debut in 2007.
He added: “At Carnoustie 10 years ago, if someone told me you’d be a four-time Major winner and you won The Open, you’re one leg away from the career grand slam, you’ve played on three winning Ryder Cup teams, you’ve won the order of merit three times in Europe, you’ve won the FedExCup in the States, I’d be like, yeah, I’ll take that. That’s pretty good.
“But having that success, you only want to do that more. And you want to emulate that and you want to do it again and again and again. So I definitely haven’t lost the hunger that I’ve always had.”
For all his success so far, McIlroy is confident that the second decade of his professional career can yield even more than Major titles than the first.
“I have won four out of the first 10 years of being a pro and the next 10, if I said four, I think I can do better than that,” he said.
“I am approaching the prime of my career, I’m 28 and until I am at least 40 I have plenty of opportunities to win golf tournaments and make my mark.”