Singapore: Northern Ireland`s golfer Rory McIlroy says he is thriving on the pressure of being World No.1 and will be hard to beat if he brings his `A` game to the USD 6 million Singapore Open next month.
McIlroy headlines a field of champions in Asia`s richest National Open, believing he can outplay American Phil Mickelson, three-time winner Adam Scott of Australia and World No.12 Louis Oosthuizen at the Sentosa Golf Club from Nov 8-11.
"The status (of being World No.1) adds pressure but it`s one that I thrive on. People expect me to play well and I expect myself to play better," said McIlroy.
"I know that I can be hard to beat when I am at my best. So I go into every tournament knowing that if I play well then I have a good chance of winning. I will always feel that way no matter what my ranking."
McIlroy has enjoyed an outstanding season highlighted by his runaway eight-stroke victory at the US PGA Championship and is in pole position to win the European Tour`s Race to Dubai with winnings of 3,407,300 euros.
He has already sewn up the PGA Tour money list with earnings of USD 8,047,952 and is looking to match the feat of Luke Donald who won the Order of Merit titles on both sides of the Atlantic last season.
"I am leading the Race to Dubai at present and it is definitely my goal to finish there at the end of the season," said McIlroy, who is 812,572 euros ahead of Sweden`s Peter Hanson.
"It is very close at the top right now and I know that I need to have a strong end to the season in order to win both orders of merit titles. A good performance in Singapore will certainly help my chances, so hopefully I can go a few better than my fourth place finish there in 2008."
The two-time Major winner said that his status in the game has brought with it added scrutiny but feels he is coping with it well.
"I definitely feel like I have more responsibilities and I`m a lot busier in tournament weeks than I used to be," he said.
"It took me a while to get used to handling a little bit more attention, more pressure, more scrutiny when you are expected to play well heading into each tournament. But I`ve learned how to handle winning big events."
McIlroy played the 2008 Singapore Open on an invitation and took a lot of confidence from his fourth place finish. He added that he was keen to tee it up again at the Serapong Course and judge how far his game had come in four years.
"The course certainly suited my eye and I enjoyed the tough challenge it presented. I`m really looking forward to getting back there and see how my scores might compare to the player I was four years ago," he said.