Rory McIlroy is biding to make history at the Players Championship this week – by being the first player to defend the title. None of the events great champions, from Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman to Nick Price – have managed a successful defence.
But McIlroy, in great form in 2020, is hoping he can be the first after he beat Jim Furyk by a shot on 16 under in 2019.
“It is an opportunity for sure,” McIlroy said on Tuesday after practice at TPC Sawgrass.
“I don’t think you ever need an extra motivation when you come to this golf tournament but to be the first one to defend here would be very cool.
“I’m sure there’s been people in the past that have had their chances to defend and finished well up there. I’d love to give myself a chance.
“If I can keep playing the way I’ve been playing and get myself into contention on Sunday, it would be something extra to play for.”
McIlroy tees off in the company of Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka on Thursday and is looking to add to his promising 2020 season.
He has not finished outside the top five since last year’s Tour Championship with a win at the WGC-HSBC CHAMPIONS in November.
But the world no 1 battled last week at the Arnold Palmer invitational
He has now spent 100 weeks at number one during his career but the four-time major winner will need yet another solid result at TPC Sawgrass if he is to fight off a challenge for top spot from big-hitting Spaniard Jon Rahm.
Only Woods and Norman have held the number one spot for 100 weeks or more in the ranking’s 34-year history.
“I’d say last week was a bad top five,” said McIlroy.