Rochester - Rory McIlroy says that despite his struggles in 2013 he goes into his PGA Championship title defence feeling better than he did last year about his game.
The 24-year-old Northern Irishman endured a nightmare 79 in the first round of last month's British Open that had him describing himself as "brain dead" and "unconscious" on his way to missing the cut at Muirfield.
McIlroy has been adjusting to new equipment in a season that has seen him struggle to share 25th at the Masters and 41st at the US Open and is trying to calm himself about a year of frustrations after four wins in 2012.
"I've become a little bit too emotionally involved with my golf over the past few months," McIlroy said. "I've let it either get me excited or get me down, where I should really just not get too high or too low about it at all.
"Sometimes I get a little bit too excited about a good shot and a little bit too down about a bad shot. Just trying to keep it more on an even keel and not get too excited about a bad round or a good round."
McIlroy insists his season can still be turned around, just as he made his 2012 campaign something special with his second career major title at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, a triumph followed by two wins in the US PGA Tour playoffs.
"I was sitting up here this time last year probably not feeling as if my game was in great shape, and I'm sitting up here this year a lot more positive, so that's a great sign," McIlroy said.
"I actually feel I'm in better spirits about my golf game this year than I was this time last year. I was searching and really trying to figure out what I needed to do with my golf game to get it back where I wanted.
"This year I definitely don't feel like I'm searching for as many answers. I don't feel like I'm looking for at many things and it's just a matter of letting it all happen on the golf course.
"It's definitely close. It's just a matter of it all clicking into place and whether that's over one round or one week or whatever it is, I definitely don't feel like it's too far away."
McIlroy admits that just two weeks ago, after missing the cut at the British Open, he felt miserable.
"I was obviously a little bit despondent after those two days," McIlroy said. "But it's something you just leave in the past. It's not something you dwell on at all. I've left it behind. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year.
"I've got a lot of great events coming up and events that I did well at last year. So hopefully those positive memories can see me through and I can start to play the golf that I know that I can."
McIlroy spent four days in Monaco after Muirfield, then went home to work with coach Michael Bannon and golf with some friends for fun, relaxing his mind and body.
"It's nice to go out and play for the sake of playing, not playing because you have to or play because whatever, just go out and play and enjoy and play some courses that I played growing up," McIlroy said.
"It makes you realize why you play the game. It makes you realize why you started, because you love the game."
McIlroy said he had not heard South African legend Gary Player's comment that McIlroy needed to "find the right wife" to help his game, likely a comment as much on his own 56-year marriage than McIlroy's romance with tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
"I don't know what you're talking about," McIlroy said. "I have the utmost respect for Gary. He's one of the greatest champions that I've ever seen."