Fed up with Top 10s, McIlroy primed for another Sawgrass tilt

Six Top-10s in eight starts would have most players doing cartwheels. But most players aren't Rory Mcllroy and while the Holywood native "celebrated" his 25th birthday with a closing 70 and a share of eighth place behind fairytale winner JB Holmes in the Wells Fargo Championship, he was in no mood to pop any champagne corks.

That's only natural.

Richer than Croesus and with two majors already on the mantelpiece, it takes more than successive back-door Top 10s and a few fans singing Happy Birthday to get McIlroy excited.

"I'm in the top 10 every week and it is fine, it's whatever. But it's not wins," McIlroy said after  finishing six shots behind Holmes, who shot 71 to win by one from Jim Furyk (65) on 14 under par.

"It's another solid week. They're top 10s, but they're top 10s without getting in contention either. I don't want to back door and top 10 it every week. It's nice to pick up a nice pay cheque but it doesn't really get the adrenaline going."

It appears to be only a matter of time before he puts four rounds together but one wonders if he has analysed why he appears to throw in one destructive round almost every week.

Or perhaps his risky, aggressive style is exactly what makes him who he is.

"It's not really what I want but It's going in the right direction," McIlroy said. "I'm improving a little bit each week. Hopefully one of these weeks it will all come together."

Putting papers over a lot of cracks and McIlroy continues to be streaky on the greens, which is a blessing for the opposition considering how well he strikes the ball.

Fifth for driving distance with an average tee shot of 306 yards, he's 26th for greens in regulation, third for birie average and fourth for scoring.

Only a strokes gained putting ranking of 127th, up from last week, is holding him back from another of those multiple victory seasons.

How he copes with TPC Sawgrass next week will be fascinating. After all, it's not a course where he needs to hit many drivers off the tee and given his prowess with a three-wood, there is no reason why he can't take a leaf out of Henrik Stenson's book and plot his way around with a spoon.

Cut in 2009, 2010, (he skipped 2011) and 2012, he stopped the rot in Ponte Vedra Beach last season by finishing tied for eighth, six strokes behind Tiger Woods.

No-one holes more putts outside 25 feet than McIlroy, who is first on tour when it comes to the long bombs with eight so far this year. 

But while there was a marked improvement this week in the eight-foot range, he is still well outside the Top 100 from that distance.

That's got little to do with over-aggression but it becomes a problem when he's facing those putts for par and failing to convert the myriad chances he produces.

A backdoor Top 10 won't satisfy him at Sawgrass. Knowing McIlroy, he'd prefer to be in the heat of the battle to the death, even if he goes down in flames taking it to the limit down the stretch.