McIlroy not in panic mode

By Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy has turned his focus to keeping his card - just four months after targeting the Ryder Cup.

The Holywood rookie, 18, has missed his last two cuts and he's determined to avoid making it a hat-trick in Korea's €2 million Ballantine's Championship.

With three failures from six starts this season, the talented Ulsterman is 109th on the Order of Merit.

But with at least another 25 events still to go, he's not hitting any panic buttons just yet.

McIlroy said: "I was just a bit rusty last week because I hadn't really played for about four or five weeks.

"I hit it well on the range in Dubai on my way out to Malaysia, but I just didn't take that onto the golf course.

"There's no alarm bells ringing and besides, even the best in the world miss a cut every now and then.

"I just didn't drive the ball well in Malaysia but I've sorted that out and I also feel a lot sharper this week.

"My new career got off to a steady start but I've only played a handful of events.

"The goal remains to wrap-up my card as soon as possible and I'm confident I can do that.

"All I am thinking about is going out and just playing rather than chasing it. I just have to stay patient."

World No 5 KJ Choi and No 10 Padraig Harrington are the favourites to take the €333,330 top prize.

But Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Damien McGrane are also gunning for top finishes and a place in next week's €5 million (US$8 million) WGC-CA Championship in Miami.

The top-10 on the Order of Merit on Sunday night will make it Doral's Blue Monster with McDowell needing a top-three and McGrane a top-eight to clinch their places.

McDowell said: "It would be nice to get into the CA-Championship but it's not something that I am overly concerned about.

"I could have done with a better finish last week in Malaysia considering I was seventh or eighth going into the weekend.

"It was a putting contest over the last two days and I just didn't putt well to have a pair of 71's to finish 17th."

The good news for McGrane and McDowell is that the top 15 on the Order of Merit are not playing this week.