Sydney - World number six Rory McIlroy admitted on Wednesday he is mentally drained from a frustrating season where he is yet to win a tournament, with just two more events to go.
The Northern Irishman has only this week's Australian Open in Sydney followed by the Tiger Woods-hosted World Challenge at Thousand Oaks in Los Angeles next week to break the jinx.
His best finishes this year were runner-up spots in the Valero Texas Open and the recent Korean Open, with the former world number one feeling the pace.
"I'm looking forward to a break after playing Tiger's event next week as it's been a long year mentally for me rather than physically," said McIlroy.
"Physically, golf doesn't take that much out of you but mentally it is quite draining.
"And especially for me this year not just being frustrated with my game but having to answer all the questions and come up with reasons why I am not playing well and all that stuff," added the former world number one.
"But then it's great to be going into the off-season feeling comfortable with my game and knowing that I am on the right track and knowing that I can start the new season strongly.
"So I am excited about that aspect and besides I still have two tournaments left this year and I would love to get a win, whether it is here or in Tiger's event in LA."
McIlroy last played in Sydney at the 2006 Australian Open as an amateur but failed to break 70 on any of the four days to finish well down the field.
"I can remember most of the golf course but then I can't remember much of how I played that week," he said of Royal Sydney, where he will play the opening two rounds with fellow US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy and PGA Tour member Matt Jones.
"But it was just nice to get back out there today for the pro-am as it's great shape and hopefully after all the rain I hear they've had in Sydney it will dry out and play the way Royal Sydney should play."
McIlroy wound up his preparations by hosting a clinic for some 250 children, delighting them with an array of shots.
After the enormous scrutiny he faced at the start of the season following his multi-million dollar switch to Nike there was one question he answered without hesitation.
"Are you happy with your decision to switch to Nike?" said the young fan.
McIlroy responded: "It's been a great learning process this year with Nike, and while it did take me a couple of months to get use to the new equipment, it's been great and I could not be happier."
Present on the first tee on Wednesday was the famed Claret Jug awarded each year to the winner of golf's oldest Major - the Open Championship.
The Australian Open marks the first of a number of tournaments, including the Irish, French and Scottish Opens, where the top three players among the leading 10, who are not otherwise exempt, will earn a place in the Open Championship.
The initiative by the St Andrews-based Royal and Ancient Golf Club will do away with international qualifying.
The Australian Open also marks the end of the 2013 Australasian Tour with the leading money winner - currently Adam Scott - also gaining exemption to the British Open.