Rory McIlroy compares his life in 2011 to being on a roller coaster.

"I just think, from the incredible low of Augusta to the incredible high of Congressional, and everything that's happened since, it's probably going to be the defining year of my career," he told the Irish Independent.

McIlroy is currently in Scotland to play the Dunhill Links Championship and reflecting on his coming unglued at the Masters, then his blaze of glory at the US Open, and not forgetting his high profile romance with the world's number one tennis player Caroline Wozniacki, you'd forgive him if he's in the market for a new seat belt.



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"I think it has to change you. You do have to get harder as a person and I've noticed that a little bit about myself already. The Open was an eye-opener for me in a way, because I'd never really received that amount of attention before. You obviously want to try to be as open and honest as you possibly can, but with so much attention on you it's hard. You have to put a little bit of a shield up."

But success hasn't changed him - that much - he swears.

"I still do find it hard to say 'no' to people, to all the requests. At the start after Congressional, I probably was a bit uncomfortable with all the madness, but once you get used to it, you can find your feet and it's okay. I've had to learn to deal with it, but it's a great problem to have. Anyway, it's definitely calmed down a bit."

A streak of not winning has humbled him, and led to a new realism, he says.

"I don't really care if other people think it's good enough. It's whether I think it is good enough and, to be honest, no it isn't. It's the best year I've ever had, but as with a lot of top-level sports people, you always think you should have done better."

"When I was 100 percent, I won the US Open by eight shots, was six shots ahead in the final round in Dubai and, after being on the cut-line, and shot 16-under on the weekend to win Quail Hollow by four.

"So, when you're on, you kind of feel untouchable. I'd take it if this happened to me four or five times a year. But it's being able to win when you're not playing your best; that's the secret I want to find. Turning those second, third and fourth-placed finishes, when I'm not playing my best, into wins is basically what I'm trying to do now.

"On the course, in my mind I think I've changed a little bit too. Everyone says: 'Let it happen, don't force it', but I don't think that's the right way to go for me. I've got to say to myself, 'look, I'm good enough, I'm going to make this happen and win' instead of shrugging: 'Oh, we'll just go out and see what happens.' I'm getting a little bit more ruthless and maybe there's a bit more self- belief too..

"Being number one is not my principal aim - the Majors are what I play for - but if I do well in those big tournaments, then the number one spot should take care of itself. It's a great goal."