McIlroy looks for fast start at Match Play

AFP| Updated: Feb 19, 2014, 11:00 AM IST

Marana (US): Rory McIlroy makes his 2014 US debut on We at the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship with hopes of a strong start after two top-10 European Tour showings.

The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland, already a two-time major champion, shared second with Phil Mickelson at Abu Dhabi last month and shared ninth earlier this month at Dubai after ending last year with an Australian Open victory. "It has been a nice positive start to the season," McIlroy said Tuesday. "I have just tried to continue that the last couple of weeks, practiced hard.
"I have worked hard and I feel like I`m seeing the results of that now."

That effort gets its first competitive test when seventh-ranked McIlroy, a top seed in his quarter of the draw, opens the 64-man knockout event against American Boo Weekley. "You have to get off to a fast start and be ready to go from the get-go," McIlroy said. "You have to choose your time to be aggressive but you have to get as many birdies as you can."

McIlroy, who is engaged to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, is a great contrast to outdoorsman Weekley, who enjoys hunting and fishing. "I`m not sure we share many common interests," McIlroy said. "I`ve never been hunting before in my life." McIlroy would face Britain`s Lee Westwood in the second round if he wins and the Englishman ousts US ninth seed Harris English. Spanish second seed Sergio Garcia, English third seed Ian Poulter and South African fourth seed Charl Schwartzel could await him before the semi-finals.

"I know I`m playing Boo. I haven`t looked at it after that," McIlroy said. "You just have to take it one match at a time. Looking forward to playing a little golf."

Saying what constitutes progress is tricky, McIlroy said, given the match-play format. "I could shoot a 67 and be going home," McIlroy said. "It`s hard to even put a number. If I get to the quarter-finals it`s a good week." McIlroy won five times in 2012, including a major title at the PGA Championship, and says, "I can do better than that. I would like to have seasons that are similar or try and do better."