Golf

Rory McIlroy targets more Major success at US Open

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Rory McIlroy's name has been engraved on the Claret Jug for little over a week now, but the three-time Major winner is already dreaming of holding aloft the Wanamaker trophy at next week's US PGA in Kentucky. 

Before that, though, comes the final World Golf Championship event of the 2014 PGA Tour season - the Bridgestone Invitational - at Firestone Country Club in Akron. 

And if the Northern Irishman were to secure his maiden WGC title this coming week in Ohio, he would topple Australia's Adam Scott at the top of the Official World Golf rankings just in time for the season's final Major at Valhalla; making him officially the world's best golfer for the first time since March last year. 

Four

The 25-year-old, however, is only thinking of one number right now following his exceptional wire-to-wire victory at the Open: four. 

"The next number in my head is four," he told reporters in the build-up to Firestone. "I've won three of them [Majors]. I'd like to win my fourth, and that's it, and just keep going like that, just one after the other."

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That way of thinking has worked well for the current-world number three in the past; he opened up his Major account at the 2011 US Open which immediately followed his final-day collapse at Augusta, three years ago now, before going on to win his second just over a year later at the 2012 US PGA at Kiawah Island. 

2012 brilliance

The run of form that followed is one of the most emphatic of recent times; he collected two wins during the FedEx Cup playoffs, and went on to emulate Englishman Luke Donald's achievement of finishing top of both money lists on the European and PGA Tour when he added another title to his CV; the DP World Tour Championship, or Race to Dubai as it is more widely recognised. 

With another Major added to his credentials - perhaps his most important one of all following his torrid time on and off the course throughout 2013 - McIlroy is eager to embark on a similar run to the one that saw him rise to the top of the game early on his career. 

With three legs of the career Grand Slam complete, all of the talk post-Hoylake was of next year's Masters, where the mild-mannered McIlroy will attempt to become just the sixth player in the sport's history to win all four Majors at some point in their career.

Career Grand Slam

That opportunity is one he will have for the rest of his career whenever he enters Magnolia Lane in Georgia at the start of Masters week. So for now, his plan is simple: keep on winning.

"As I said, you need goals, but that's obviously too much of a long-term goal [setting a Major record]. I'd like to set shorter-term goals, even if it's trying to improve something in my game because then all those short-term goals will help you achieve the long-term goal in the end," he continued.

"So, the only number I'm worried about at the minute is four," he added. "I've always thought that way, and never put a number on it."

Woods scrutiny

Since McIlroy's emergence as the sport's leading star, Tiger Woods aside, comparisons have been drawn with the man has 14 Major titles himself, but is facing the longest drought of his career in that department having failed to add to his haul since the 2008 US Open. 

But he has also experienced first hand the amount of pressure Woods is under whenever he appears at an event - particularly the Majors of recent years. Questions about his future are asked time and time again, although that is partly down to the standards the record-breaking Man in Red set of himself early on his career. 

McIlroy's latest comments suggest he is going to adopt a different approach. 

19? 

"I know how many Majors the greats of the game have won. But I never wanted to compare myself. At least at the end of my career, there's not going to be disappointment. Oh, I wanted to get to 15, but I only got 12, bummer," he joked. 

"You still got 12 Majors, you know what I mean? I just don't want to end my career like that. I'd love to end my career with 12 Majors, but I don't want it to be a disappointment."

Right now, the magic number is four. Soon, it will more than likely be five. Then six; seven - who really knows how many, or can even hazard a reasonable guess.

One thing is for sure; he's here for the long haul… 19, anyone?

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Topics:
The Open
Rory McIlroy
US Masters
Golf
US Open Golf

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