The Players: Rory McIlroy refusing to place pressure on himself as he shares midway lead
Last Updated: 16/03/19 11:05am
Rory McIlroy says his objective is to continue playing good golf, rather than place pressure on himself to end a year-long wait for a title at The Players.
The four-time major champion enjoyed a late back-nine charge at TPC Sawgrass to join fellow European Ryder Cup teammate Tommy Fleetwood in a share of the halfway lead at twelve under in Florida.
I don't need a win. I'm not putting myself under pressure to - again, winning is a by-product of doing all the things that I'm doing well.
McIlroy combined his solid game from tee to green with a confident display with the putter as he enjoyed a three-hole stretch of birdies from the eighth to the 10th, before he followed a fantastic eagle at the 16th with an assured birdie at the par-three 17th in a seven-under 65.
"I just need to keep seeing red numbers. That's all I need to keep seeing," he said.
"I don't need a win. I'm not putting myself under pressure to - again, winning is a by-product of doing all the things that I'm doing well.
"If you look at my driving stats, how I'm hitting my irons, all that adds up to hopefully shooting the best score or the lowest score of the week. So that's how I need to approach it. It's not if I just focus on winning, what goes into that?
"Yes, that's the end goal, but there's so many different little mini-goals you need to accomplish to get to that point."
McIlroy has enjoyed five top-six finishes this season on the PGA Tour and he is well aware of the opportunity on offer over the weekend.
"I mean, look, it would be wonderful [to win], but I think it's too early to start talking about that," he added.
"The course changed a lot from yesterday morning when we played to this afternoon, so I just have to concentrate on adapting and trying to figure out the way this golf course is playing, or is going to play over the next two days.
"WInning is a by-product of doing all the right things, and I feel like if I can continue to do those things well, hopefully I do end up with the trophy on Sunday, but there's a lot of golf to play before that."
McIlroy will join Fleetwood in the final group on Saturday and believes the duo will enjoy playing in each other's company because of their game styles.
"I definitely think you've got comfortable pairings and pairings that maybe aren't so - different styles of play, different paces of play," McIlroy said.
"I loved playing with Dustin (Johnson) in the final round of Mexico because we both play so fast."