Rory McIlroy got off to a great start at the PGA championship, the last of the season’s majors, shooting a 67 to be one shot off the lead at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island off the South Carolina coast.
The Irish player ranked number two in the world has failed to challenge at five majors since winning the US Open by eight shots last year.
McIlory put his improved game down to a new focus: “I was working very hard on technical stuff for the last few weeks, and then a slight mental adjustment, as well,” McIlroy said.
“I felt like I was maybe hitting too many balls on the range. I just needed to go out there and play a bit more on the course and see shots.”
Without question, McIlroy saw every shot on Thursday and executed almost every one to perfection, missing just three greens in regulation and four fairways during the round.
McIlroy said the calm conditions made the difference: "Yeah, I'm expecting this to be the best day of the week," McIlroy said. “I think everyone is. So we know that there's going to be a bit of wind coming in and maybe a bit of bad weather. It's just something that you're going to have to deal with and I'm just happy that I got off to a great start. As I said, I have a great platform to go from.”
“I'm disappointed that I have not contended in majors since (The 2011 US Open) McIlroy told the BBC. 'I haven't given myself even a chance. It would be great to feel that buzz again - of getting into contention in a major and remembering how it feels.”
McIlroy tied for 40th at the Masters in April, after closing with scores of 77 and 76 and he finished joint 60th at last month's British Open.
Asked by the BBC to assess his 2012 campaign, McIlroy said: “It's been good. There were a few goals I set myself early at the start of the year, which I achieved; getting to number one in the world, playing well, winning a tournament early.
“The second half of the season has been a little bit more of a struggle but I feel like I'm playing pretty well.
"If I had to give my season a grade to this point, I'd probably give it a 'B'. And I've still got a lot of good golf to look forward to.'
McIlroy added that he likes the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island : “It's a long golf course, a big golf course, a golf course you not only have to hit it well, but you really have to think about what you're doing out there,” he said.
“You really have to pick your spots where you want to hit it, and obviously with the weather the way it's been this week, that's going to play a pretty big factor, too.
“But you know, I like what I see. I think the course is in phenomenal shape. I love the greens. I love the paspalum (grass). I think the ball rolls really, really well so I'm looking forward to the week.”
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore