New York: Rory McIlroy, armed with advice from Australian Greg Norman, returns to the scene of his first PGA Tour title looking to regain his stride after a stunning blowup at last month`s Masters.
McIlroy finished with a scintillating 66 and course-record 62 last year to move from the cut line into the winner`s circle at the Quail Hollow Championship, where Tiger Woods missed the cut with the worst 36-hole score of his career.
The Northern Irishman experienced his own stomach-churning slide at Augusta. Leading by four shots going into the final round he soared to an eight-over-par 80 that put him 10 strokes behind winner Charl Schwartzel of South Africa.
A week later he finished third at the Malaysian after yet another late collapse left him two shots back of the winner, Italian teenager Matteo Manassero.
"I had a good chat with Greg Norman the week after when I was in Malaysia, and he sort of just said to me ... from now on, don`t read golf magazines, don`t pick up papers, don`t watch the Golf Channel," McIlroy told reporters.
McIlroy, who turned 22 on Wednesday, said it was hard to avoid media altogether but agreed with the gist of the steer he was given by Norman, who squandered a six-stroke, final-round lead at the 1996 Masters.
"You can`t let other people influence what you`re thinking and what you should do. I`ve taken my own views from what happened a few weeks ago and moved on, and that`s the most important thing," he said.
McIlroy will face a strong field starting Thursday that includes world number two Martin Kaymer of Germany and number four Phil Mickelson, last year`s Wells Fargo runner-up, and Bubba Watson, who is fresh off Sunday`s playoff win at the New Orleans Classic.
The irrepressible McIlroy said he was determined to take positives out of the 2011 Masters and move forward.
"I don`t think I was ready. That was the most important thing," he said. "I displayed a few weaknesses in my game that I need to work on. But I think you`ve got to take the positives.”
"For 63 holes I led the golf tournament, and it was just a bad back nine, a very bad back nine that sort of took the tournament away from me, I suppose. But what can you do?"
McIlroy said the lost opportunity only bothered him for a couple of days before he turned the page.
"I`m fine. It was a great chance to win a first major, but it`s golf. It`s only golf at the end of the day," he said.
"No one died. Very happy with my life, very happy with what`s going on, very happy with my game, you know, so I`m looking forward to this week."