Rory McIlroy stays positive ahead of The Players Championship

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Rory McIlroy is five years removed from winning The Players Championship.

McIlroy will look to add his name to an exclusive list of multi-time winners of the event when he tees off at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

“Fortunately, there’s not many places I go now where I’m not a past winner, so it’s nice,” McIlroy said during Wednesday’s media scrum. The 2019 champion is bidding to join Jack Nicklaus (1974, 1976, 1978), Hal Sutton (1983, 2000), Fred Couples (1984, 1996), Steve Elkington (1991, 1997), Davis Love III (1992, 2003) and Tiger Woods (2001, 2013) as multi-time winners.

McIlroy, who is ranked second in the world, was unable to properly defend his title at The Players Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. He followed that up by sandwiching a pair of missed cuts around a tie for 33rd place in 2022.

McIlroy’s last major victory came in 2014, when he won the Open Championship and the PGA Championship.

“I’m under no illusion that the clock is ticking and it has been 10 years since I’ve won one of them, and I’ve had chances, and those just haven’t went my way. I just need to keep putting myself in those positions, and sooner or later it’s going to happen,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy, 34, is coming off a tie for 21st last week during the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill. He was in contention before carding a 76 on Sunday.

“I’m not missing cuts, but at the same time, with how I’ve driven the golf ball the last three weeks, I should be contending in the tournaments that I’ve played,” he said. “Yeah, a little bit of work to do with the irons and trying to get those straightened out, but I feel like every other part of the game is in great shape.”