Leading man McIlroy returns in confident mood to take on ‘brutal’ Honda Classic test

Rory McIlroy..
Rory McIlroy..
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Rory McIlroy makes his 2015 PGA Tour debut in this week’s Honda Classic, an event which has brought out the best – and worst – in the world No 1 in recent years.

McIlroy won the tournament in 2012 to become world No 1 for the first time, but walked off the course during the defence of his title the following year, initially telling reporters he was in ‘’a bad place mentally’’ and then issuing a statement citing severe toothache as the reason for withdrawing.

The 25-year-old had played his first eight holes in seven over par but later admitted that was “no excuse” for quitting as he struggled to get to grips with his new equipment from a multi-million dollar deal with Nike.

Last year McIlroy looked on course to make amends in style when he opened with rounds of 63 and 66, only to card a closing 74 and eventually lose out in a play-off to Russell Henley.

This year the four-time major winner comes into the event on the back of a victory in the Dubai Desert Classic following four second places.

Although McIlroy concedes some holes can be “brutal”, he is confident of avoiding the pitfalls of the water-laden stretch.

“I can see myself shooting scores here. You know, I can see 63, 64, 65 out there, maybe some guys can’t,” he said. “But once you get on a roll, it’s not like it’s the longest course in the world.

New Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke is joined by Yorkshire duo Simon Dyson and John Parry at the Joburg Open.