PALM BEACH GARDENS, FL - Rory McIlroy, who returned to the No. 1 spot in the World Golf Ranking after winning the British Open and the PGA Championship in 2014, has committed to the 2015 Honda Classic, a PGA TOUR event which will be played February 23 - March 1 at PGA National Resort & Spa.
McIlroy's surge back to elite form in the final six months of the year was the talk of golf.
"I definitely look back at 2014 with pride," said McIlroy, the 2012 Honda Classic champion. "Over the Christmas period there, I had my first chance to really look back and reflect on the year and even watch a few of the highlights at some of the tournaments that I won. So it was nice to reflect. But I feel 2014 has really set me up for another great year this year. I feel like I'm coming into this year with a nice little bit of momentum, and my game is feeling good."
McIlroy was flying to the UAE for the Abu Dhabi Championship earlier this month and decided to continue his early year tradition of jotting down his goals on his boarding pass. He memorizes the list, tucks it away in his wallet and doesn't look at it again until the end of the year.
Along the way, McIlroy found that, as great at 2014 ended up being, he has some unfinished business from last year. He wanted to win six times. He won four, partially due to a near-miss at the 2014 Honda where he lost a four-man playoff to defending champion Russell Henley. But the list also included winning just one Major. McIlroy won two.
The 2015 goal list has seven items on it. That is as much as McIlroy will reveal. But winning The Honda would obviously help him begin to accomplish at least the victory total he has in mind. Another goal undoubtedly also will include winning The Masters, which would give McIlroy a career Grand Slam at the age of 25.
Only five golfers have won all four of golf's modern Majors at any time during their careers -- Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods. Bobby Jones is the only golfer to win all of the Majors in the same year, but he did it in 1930 before he founded The Masters four years later. The four Majors then were the U.S. Open, British Open, U.S. Amateur and British Amateur.
McIlroy knows the hype leading up to Augusta will be enormous, particularly at The Honda, the kickoff event to the East Coast swing and the tournament where the International media congregates to begin its Masters buildup.
"There's so much hype going into Augusta, anyway," McIlroy said. "So it's just about making sure I'm as well prepared as I possibly can be going into that event, and I feel like I've got a good routine and mental strategy going into the Majors now where I try not to let too much affect me. I try not to look at too much stuff and really just go into my own little world for those couple of weeks.
"It's been working pretty well, so I'll try to just keep doing what I've been doing and keep to my routines. If I can do that, that will give me the best possible chance to play well that week."
McIlroy played golf at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach in December and didn't play his next round until January 5th. He is fresh and motivated.
"It's time to look forward now and look towards this season and try and accomplish the goals that I set for myself at the start of this year," McIlroy said. "Winning tournaments, winning Majors. It's the little things that you can do in practice and just in everyday life that can maybe help you get to that and be a little bit more consistent and do a couple more things.
"I'm looking forward to all of it. It's going to be a good year hopefully."
The 2015 Honda Classic will be played February 23-March 1, 2015 with Russell Henley defending his title. The Honda awarded a record $2.55 million in charitable contributions in 2014, the eighth straight year the event has increased its charitable distribution to South Florida Children's Charities. The tournament also attracted 193,052 confirmed spectators between Tuesday's practice round and Sunday's dramatic finish that saw Henley prevail in a four-man playoff over Rory McIlroy, Ryan Palmer and Russell Knox.