(Reuters) - Rory McIlroy is hoping a return to a familiar hunting ground this week at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina will allow him a chance to bounce back from a near-miss at last month’s U.S. Masters.
A return to an old stomping ground could not come at a better time for McIlroy in his first start since he finished in a share of fifth place at Augusta National where he went out in the final pairing eying the final leg of the career grand slam.
The 28-year-old Northern Irishman claimed his maiden PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow in 2010 and has posted top-10 finishes in six of his eight starts at the venue, including a second triumph in 2015.
“It’s always nice to come back to a golf course and an event where you’ve played well before and you’ve have some really good memories and luckily this week is one of those weeks for me,” McIlroy told reporters.
“I’ve always enjoyed the golf course, through the different variations of it, from 2010 all the way up until now.”
McIlroy, the only two-times winner of the Wells Fargo Championship, will tee off in Thursday’s opening round alongside Englishman Paul Casey and American James Hahn.
The four-times major champion said the Quail Hollow course sets up perfectly for his style of play and caters to his strengths with plenty of mid and long iron shots.
“I’ve played it well and it’s one of those golf courses that sets up well for me, it fits my eye. I feel like I can play my game around here and that served me pretty well over the years,” said McIlroy.
“So hopefully this week is another good week and the start of a pretty busy stretch for me so I am looking forward to kicking that off in a positive fashion.”
McIlroy began the final round of the Masters alone in second place and three shots behind eventual champion Patrick Reed but after a disappointing day finished six shots back.
Since failing on what was his fourth shot at a career grand slam, McIlroy took time off to decompress and only resumed practising over the last 10 days.
While he acknowledged there may be rust in his game he is eager to get back to competition.
“Felt like going into the few weeks leading up to Augusta I was playing well, obviously got myself in the final group but didn’t play quite so well on the last day,” McIlroy said.
“But the game is feeling good and hopefully I can play my way into the tournament this week and hopefully play my way into contention on the weekend.”
Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond