Rory McIlroy believes he is close to reaching the form that could see him turn around a disappointing 2013 as he prepares for today's first round at the US Open in Merion.
The world number two, who has himself admitted that he has not been at his best since a multi-million pound equipment change in January, acknowledges that he has endured a frustrating year so far, but believes the Pennsylvania course and conditions are ideally suited to helping him change that.
"The fact the course is playing a bit softer definitely gives me an advantage," said the 24 year-old, "it is probably going to play into my hands a bit more and my iron play is dialled in. As long as I can put it in the fairway I can take advantage of it."
McIlroy, who has been paired with Tiger Woods and Masters champion Adam Scott for his opening two rounds at the USGA, hopes to take advantage of being in such a high-profile group despite his relatively poor form so far this year.
"It's always nice to be part of a group like that," added the Northern Irishman, "it is something I am excited about."
The US Open has a tradition of putting the world's top three in the same group, and despite lowered expectations, McIlroy believes the trio will all be at an advantage: "I like it because there is a lot of buzz and atmosphere and it gets you focused from the first shot.
"It has been a frustrating year. If you had told me we would be at this point and I had not won and had been playing the way I had, I would have been disappointed.
"But I feel good about my game and it is just about staying patient and knowing that it is going to turn around eventually.
"It is all heading in the right direction. This would be the perfect place to get back into contention."
McIlroy begins his round at the Merion at 18.14 (BST) this evening.
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