News24

McIlroy gets shot at No 1

2012-03-01 09:27

Florida - Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy could get another chance to seize golf's number one world ranking when he tees it up at the US PGA Tour Honda Classic this week.

McIlroy had the opportunity to supplant England's Luke Donald atop the rankings at the World Golf Championships Match Play Championship last week, but his runner-up finish to Hunter Mahan wasn't enough to boost him to the top.

Despite falling to America's Mahan in the championship match, McIlroy said the event in Arizona "was a very positive week".

McIlroy's victories at Dove Mountain included a semi-final triumph over England's Lee Westwood, who also could have taken the number one ranking last week with a victory.

"I felt like I didn't play my best golf at the start of the week," McIlroy said. "But when I needed to up my game a little bit, for more the most part on Saturday and Sunday, I played really good golf.

"Just got off to a bit of a slow start on Sunday afternoon against Hunter and left myself a bit too much to do," he added. "Felt like I played the back nine pretty well and obviously pretty confident coming into here this week."

While Donald is absent, McIlroy will be able to renew his rivalry with Westwood, now ranked third in the world.

"You know, he is one of the guys that when you look at a leaderboard or you look at a tournament field, he's one of the guys that you look for because he's been so consistent," McIlroy said of Westwood. "I think we both respect each other for the way we play and how we go about our games."

Westwood also said his confidence was high after reaching the Match Play semis.

He will play the first two rounds in a marquee group with Tiger Woods and fellow Englishman Ian Poulter.

"It will be a great atmosphere out there," Westwood predicted. "I get on really well with Ian, so I'll be taking the Mickey a bit there and I get on well with Tiger. When I saw the draw I thought, 'that's brilliant.'"

The field also includes defending champion Rory Sabbatini of South Africa, who held off fast-charging Yang Yong-eun of South Korea in the final round last year. Yang, who won the title in 2009, is also back.

AFP