ory McIlroy believes he is still the best golfer in the world despite falling to his lowest world ranking in 12 years.
Before the global pandemic hit, McIlroy was No. 1 in the world but fell to 14 in the world and was largely ineffective in his last event, the Ryder Cup, where he usually played some of his best golf courses.
The 32-year-old returns to action this week at the CJ Cup in Las Vegas, eager to turn around a largely disappointing season but still doesn’t lack self-confidence.
He said: “I think when I play my best I’m the best player in the world. I haven’t played like this in a while, but I don’t feel like I have to go back this far every time the pandemic hit, I was No. 1 in the world.
“Obviously the last 18 months haven’t been what I wanted them to be but, if you keep it in perspective, I’m not that far away.
“And now there are a ton of great players who obviously play golf very, very well. I feel like the talent pool is getting deeper and deeper every year, so you have to strive to keep trying to improve yourself to stay where you want to stay.
“It’s not the position I want to be in but at the same time there are so many other guys trying to do the same as me and I realize that the competition is getting harder every year. You just have to try not to just follow it, but try to get better. “
McIlroy struggled to find his best form as Europe was beaten by the United States in the Ryder Cup last month.
This led to the fall of the Traditional European Talisman by Captain Padraig Harrington on the second day, for which McIlroy had no complaints. But in the aftermath of the event, he cut an emotional figure claiming he should have done more for his European teammate.
“I’m not necessarily moved by golf,” he said, “So I guess that way it surprised me. I think it was a good thing for me.
“I think I might have realized some things about myself that I didn’t know or that I might have known, but I was trying to stay calm and not let them go out.
“I was surprised at how emotional I was, but after a bit of thought over the past two weeks, I kind of understood why I had become this way.”