AKRON, Ohio -- With a third major title secured and the chance to return to No. 1 looming this week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, Rory McIlroy said he hasn't dwelled much on his British Open victory two weeks ago at Royal Liverpool, even if it was the most coveted major for the young man from Northern Ireland.
"I've obviously had a bit of time to reflect after the Open and everything, but just decided I wanted to move on and move forward," McIlroy said Tuesday at Firestone C.C.
Well, yes, he's moving forward -- after quaffing a few beverages from the claret jug, taking it out on the town in Belfast with his friends and capturing pictures of it in various locations, including, for some reason, atop the toilet.
Yeah, he's had his fun. But now McIlroy gets back to business, hoping to ride his newfound momentum to further conquests starting at this limited-field World Golf Championship. The following week is the year's final major, the PGA Championship at Valhalla GC, where he'll surely be the prohibitive favorite. And the FedEx Cup Playoffs and Race to Dubai remain in the not too distant future, with the Ryder Cup sandwiched between them.
"There's a lot of big tournaments left this year, a lot of golf left to play, and a lot of things I still want to achieve," said McIlroy, 25, who has risen to No. 2 in the world behind Adam Scott. "World No. 1 is a big goal of mine. I've never won a World Golf Championship. That's another thing. I've got three majors but never won one of these. That's another thing I'd like to knock off the list. So there's a lot of stuff still to play for."
Not that there hasn't been stuff to play for in the past, but McIlroy hasn't always played to his potential. Accompanying his occasional hot streaks, like his burst in the FedEx Cup playoffs in 2012 following his record eight-stroke PGA victory at Kiawah Island, have been notable periods of indifference.
At Hoylake, Tiger Woods noted, bluntly, that his fellow Nike teammate has lacked consistency, a hallmark of Woods' career. "When he gets it going, he gets it going. When it gets going bad, it gets going real bad," Woods said. "If you look at his results, he's kind of that way. Very similar to what Phil [Mickelson] does. He has his hot weeks and he has his weeks where he's off. It's no right way or wrong way. But it's just the nature of how he plays."
McIlroy doesn't disagree. "I think for me it's all a mental thing," he said. "If I can get myself in the right frame of mind week in, week out, and give myself some little mental triggers throughout the week, like I did at the Open Championship, then, hopefully, I'll have a lot more of those 'on' weeks. . . . But definitely, if you said there's one thing I'd like to get better at, it would just be a little bit more consistency in there. Hopefully, I'm on the right path to try and do that."
He already is, frankly, having not finished outside the top 25 in 10 PGA Tour starts this year while adding a victory at the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship in May following his celebrated breakup with his fiance, tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.
With three legs of the career Grand Slam in his possession, McIlroy can set his sights higher, although that is nothing new. He has talked in the past about going to bed thinking of golf and waking up thinking of the game. It's a mentality he'll continue to embrace in the hopes of embellishing his record.
"It's what I've always done. It's what I've always known. That's been my life since I was sort of 10 years old was golf," he said. "I think it's just waking up every morning with that drive to want to get better and to want to be the best. I talked about going to bed thinking about it as well, it's more about reflecting on what you've done that day. 'Have you become a better golfer than you were when you woke up that morning, or have you maybe not gotten better but made a step in the right direction to become a better player?' Yeah, that's the place that I'm in right now, and that's my main objective and my main focus. I feel like I'm playing well. I just want to continue to keep doing that."