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McIlroy hopes to keep emotions in check to improve on 'a good season, but not a great season'

“Maybe I sometimes get a little bit ahead of myself,” he said.

Rory McIlroy practices ahead of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Rory McIlroy practices ahead of the WGC-HSBC Champions.

RORY MCILROY BELIEVES he needs to handle his emotions better on the final day of tournaments to improve on a major-less 2018.

McIlroy has 10 top-10 finishes to his name this year but just one victory, claimed back in March at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

A scintillating display at Bay Hill — including five birdies over the final six holes – seemingly stood him in good stead for The Masters, and he was just three shots off the lead going into the final day at Augusta.

However, McIlroy eventually finished six strokes behind winner Patrick Reed and was similarly frustrated at this year’s Open, the world number five left to settle for a share of second behind Francesco Molinari at Carnoustie.

He was well off the pace at the US Open and US PGA Championship and, speaking ahead of the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai, McIlroy identified the areas that can help him win his first major since 2014.

Asked by Omnisport to grade his 2018, McIlroy said: “I’d probably give myself a ‘B’. I’ve had a lot of chances to win tournaments and I haven’t quite converted as many as I would have liked, but at least I got back on the board and won one in earlier in March. 

“I had a couple of good finishes in the majors, I’ve played a lot of final groups and had chances so it’s been a year where the golf has been very consistent. I think I’ve had 10 top 10s, but I would have liked to have won maybe a couple of times more. It’s been a good season, but not a great season.”

Pressed on what he needed to do to convert those opportunities in the future, he added: “Probably just play better on Sundays. I’ve got myself into some really good positions; maybe just handle my emotions and my thoughts a little bit better on last days.

“Maybe I sometimes get a little bit ahead of myself. I think if I can do that and just control my thoughts a little bit more, that can hopefully help and I can win a few more times.”

Dating back to the 2015 US PGA, 10 of the last 13 majors have seen first-time winners. Quizzed if there has ever been greater depth in the game, McIlroy replied: “I don’t think so. Golf is in a great place. I think it’s a product of what’s happened in golf in the last 20 years.

“It has become more popular all over the world and the result is everyone’s getting better. The fields are stronger. It’s harder to separate yourself from the others. It’s definitely the most competitive it’s ever been.”

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