2016 is going to be a busy year for Rory McIlroy (subject to football injuries...). With four majors, the Olympics and the Ryder Cup, golf has never seen a year like it.
So how does 26-year-old McIlroy viewing the big events in this biggest of golf years? And what is his take on the game’s biggest rivalry? We asked him...
Have you written your goals for 2016 on a boarding pass like last year?
Yeah, same thing. No different than how I’ve started every year of my professional career. A lot of the goals are about preparation and about doing as much as I possibly can so that when I turn up to events, I’m ready to go and I don’t have to think about anything.
How do you view your battle for No.1 spot with Jordan Spieth?
I don’t play the game on markers at all. I want to play my best, and I don’t have to just beat Jordan Spieth. I have to beat another 142 guys. It would be foolish of me to think that’s all that my competition was. I think it would be an injustice to every other player that’s in every field.
How has the laser eye surgery you had over the break helped?
I feel like the surgery hasn’t made a huge difference from my contact lenses for distance. But it’s definitely made things just that little bit sharper, maybe within 50 metres or so. I feel like I’ve always been a decent green reader, but maybe not quite as good as I could be. So that was one of the reasons why I took this step. And with how much we travel, it’s just so much easier not having to worry about contact lenses, putting them in and taking them out at night.
There’s a lot of golf this year with the majors, the Olympics, the Ryder Cup…
Well, from basically the US Open until the Ryder Cup, it’s week on, week off, week on, week off, and you’ve got the FedEx Cup and the Ryder Cup after that. So I’d say it will be a fairly quiet October in golf at the highest level. I think a lot of guys will take some time off after that.
Gold medal or a major championship?
Major. I think a major is the pinnacle of our sport. I think I’ll be remembered for my majors. All I’ve dreamt of from a little kid is winning majors. I never dreamed of competing in the Olympics or winning an Olympic medal. So a major will always be more important.
How is the Ryder Cup shaping up?
They are a young, hungry team for a reason. There’s a lot of guys on that team that haven’t tasted Ryder Cup success. They are motivated, they are hungry and I’m sure they don’t want to lose again. If they have the backroom team they look like they’ll have with Davis, Tiger, Phil, they have got everything possible to win it back. It’s up to us to try and prevent that.
How do you like wearing shorts in practice rounds?
It’s a nice change. It’s been a bit weird looking down the range and not really knowing who was a caddie and who was a player. But yes, I think it’s a good change. Golf needs to move with the times, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with showing the bottom half of your legs.
Lee Trevino has said he believes you’ll win more than one Grand Slam in your career. Is that a nice boost for you?
Not really. It’s just words, someone giving an opinion. Someone saying that and me going out and doing it are two entirely different things. I’d like to think by the end of my career, I’ll have won each major more than once.
Are you glad you didn’t have to go up against Tiger when he was at his peak, or would you have relished that?
I feel like the competition brings the best out of me. So I’d have loved to. Still would. Hopefully if he can get healthy. I’d love to have a crack at him down the stretch in one of the majors – just once.