Rory McIlroy is motivated to finish the year off on a high, starting with the Horizon Irish Open this weekend.
The Co Down golfer will be back at the K Club seven years after winning the competition at the Kildare venue, and he is hoping to draw on memories of that success when he tees off at 8am on Thursday.
“It’s lovely to come back to K Club where I’ve got some great memories,” McIlroy told RTÉ Sport. “It’s by far the best I’ve ever played at an Irish Open in terms of result. I feel like it’s been too long, I’d love to do that again.
“It’s always nice coming back to a place where you’ve got good memories. You can remember the good shots that you’ve hit and there’s maybe a level of comfort around a golf course like this, that I maybe haven’t had in some of the Irish Opens that I’ve played recently.”
The Major season has now ended without McIlroy adding to the four championships he won between 2011 and 2014, but with the Ryder Cup looming, he knows that golden opportunities will be provided at both the Irish Open and next week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
“I think it’s a nice cadence going into it,” the 34-year-old said. “I haven’t done a tonne over the past week, coming off the back of the FedEx Cup, and trying to look after my back a little bit too.
“It’ll be nice to get back into it. Here and Wentworth are two great events. I want to play well to play myself into form going into the Ryder Cup, but obviously to try and give myself a nice cushion in the Race to Dubai, and try and win that as well.
“There’s still a tonne to play for. I’m still very, very motivated, even though it’s at the back end of the year, I’m really motivated to finish the season off on a high.
McIlroy’s 2016 success at the K Club marks the last time that a golfer from this island won the Irish Open, and he will be joined on the course by fellow previous winners Shane Lowry and Padraig Harrington.
Of the trio, Lowry will be out first on Thursday, teeing off alongside Min Woo Lee and Ryan Fox at 7.50am.
He will be closely followed by McIlroy, Adrian Meronk and Billy Horschel at 8am, before Harrington comes out at 12.50 with Tom McKibbon and Tom Hoge.
Watch the Horizon Irish Open for all four days on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 1pm during the week and 1.10pm at the weekend