"I don't want to be burned out by the time I'm 30" - Rory

Rory McIlroy is trying to find “the perfect balance between golf and having a normal life…”Rory McIlroy has responded to the critics who say he doesn’t play enough and lacked sharpness at the Masters.

The US Open champion, who turns 23 tomorrow, has played just once in the last seven weeks and lost his world No 1 ranking to Luke Donald once more.

But he insists that he’s simply trying to find the formula that will give him balance in his life, allow him to stay as fresh as possible for the big summer months and become multiple major champion.

Set to play five events in the next seven weeks through the US Open, McIlroy said: “This year I’m going to play 23 events plus the Ryder Cup.  Last year was more like 30.  

“I don’t want to be burned out by the time I’m 30. I want to try and prolong my career as much as I can…

“I know I’ve been criticised a little bit for not playing as much as some other guys but I know I’ve got a big stretch coming up, and I want to be as fresh as possible.

“I’m trying to find the perfect balance between golf and having a normal life and everything else. For me there’s more to life than just golf. I don’t know if people are surprised to hear that, but I have a lot more going on in my life than just golf.”

McIlroy took two weeks off before The Masters but collapsed to tied 40th with Tiger Woods after a bad week off the tee.He’s since taken another three weeks off to spend time in Europe with girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki and practice in Florida.

“I got to Florida, spent seven days there and did some really good practice, had Michael Bannon out, had Steve McGregor here.  They’re both still here and both did‑‑ we all did some really good work, so I was happy with that.”

As for the Masters, where he was third at halfway but lost the plot in the third round and ended up making up the numbers, he said:

“I played pretty good the first two days, 71‑69, was in third position going into the weekend and in a really good position.  Just that front nine on Saturday killed me.  So I can’t‑‑ it’s hard to put your finger on it.  I knew there was things that ‑‑ I struggled to hit the ball right to left at Augusta.  If you’re struggling hitting the ball right to left there, you’re not going to do any good.  I couldn’t turn it around some of the corners, which usually is my typical favorite shot.  I’ve just been working on that a little bit the last week or so and trying to become more comfortable with that shot again and be comfortable working the ball both ways.

But yeah, that was‑‑ I didn’t drive the ball particularly well at Augusta, and you need to drive it well.  You need to put your ball in the fairway to have a chance to go at the pins.  That was the disappointing thing for me about Augusta.”

Needing a top seven finish in the Wells Fargo Championship this week to go back to world No 1, he reckons he’s ready to perform well again at Quail Hollow where he clinched his maiden US win with a closing 62 two years ago.

He said: “It’s always nice to come back to somewhere where you’ve had success. I’ve got some great memories of this course…

“It was nice to get that first win in the U.S.  It was my second win of my career.  I think it gave me the confidence‑‑ you know, a lot of European players come over here and struggle to win, so to come over here and get a win early was nice.

“It gave me the confidence to know if I came over here a little bit more that I did have good chances of winning tournaments here.”

McIlroy has since won the US Open and the Honda Classic on US soil and become world 1. It’s a ranking he’d like to make his own for a while.

He was only half in jest when he said: “It would be nice to assert my authority in that No 1 position and keep it for a while.”

Asked if the game would have a firm No 1 by the end of the year, he said: “I hope so. I hope you’re looking at him.”