McIlroy stronger thanks to struggles

Rory McIlroy believes that his struggles this season have made him a better player.

The Holywood star, 19, was tipped to become the youngest Ryder Cup debutant in history after grabbing his tour stripes in spectacular style last year.

Despite nine missed cuts since January, he has €268,000 in the bank and is far from dejected that he is “only” 89th in the Order of Merit.

McIlroy said: “It's probably been good for me in the long run. It does not seem as easy as it did at first and that's kept me working hard.

“Most of the cuts I've missed are only by one or two shots and I definitely feel I am on the right track."

He took just two weeks to earn his tour card last year - finishing third in the Dunhill Links and fourth in Madrid.

And while 2008 looks poor in comparison, he reckons his struggles have made him more determined.

Set to tee it up in the Omega European Masters, he said: “Of course it's been a bit disappointing given the way I started, but if you'd asked me when I was at the Walker Cup last September I'd have taken this.

“I got my card last year without having to go to the qualifying school and I've already earned enough this season to keep my card.

“I've just got to stay patient. I'm hitting it as well as I have all year and if I keep improving like I am I know that in six years' time I'm going to be a pretty good player.”

Making Nick Faldo’s Ryder Cup was always a long shot and McIlroy prefers to concentrate on winning majors than making teams.

He said: “I don't care if I don't play the Ryder Cup. I would rather win a major."

His goal is to climb into the top 60 on the money list to qualify for the Volvo Masters at Valderrama and with Europe’s top players sitting out this week’s event in Switzerland, he has a golden opportunity to make a move.