World number 3 Rory McIlroy has his eyes on reclaiming the number one spot this year, and is preparing a busier than usual start to the season to catch up with Jordan Spieth.
The margin between the top three, Jason Day lies in second, is small at present, and McIlroy is making no secret of his intentions of catching them up.
The pair ahead of him won three of the four majors this year. “If I can get off to a good start next year, I can get back to number one going into the Masters,” said McIlroy.
“I’m going to play two more tournaments leading up to Augusta in April.”
McIlroy played five events before this year’s Masters, where he finished a career-best fourth as rounds of 68 and 66 on the final two days left him six shots behind Spieth.
He also feels that being more active on the tour prior to the Masters will give him the best shot at completing a career Grand Slam.
“I need to feel I’m right in the middle of the season at Augusta. Over the last couple of years, I’ve played pretty well at Augusta but I’ve got off to a little bit of a slow start each time. Engagement
“Whether that was because I was a little bit under-golfed, that definitely won’t be the case in 2016.” Following another highprofile engagement, many have questioned if the romantic distraction may derail his career for a second time, after splitting with tennis Caroline Wozniacki last year.
But opening up on his relationship with Erica Stoll, he has actually said that he is finding it easier to play golf as she has a calming effect on him.
“Erica has been around me quite a lot at tournaments but we have really just tried to keep it low key,” McIlroy told guardian.com.
“She is a very low key person, not the kind to broadcast stuff, but that side of my life is really good just now. We are excited, our parents are excited so it is a really happy time.
“For me, Erica brings such a level of normality to everything. She has a calming presence, a sereneness and that’s not just on me; it is noticeable in any company.
“She never wants to be the centre of attention and is always very comfortable in the background.” The 26-year-old says that the couple have no plans to marry in 2016 because he and the PGA employee are so busy.
“She has been a great influence on me and has given such a great balance to my life; between who I am when people see me out here and who I am at home.”
“I’m happy; again it is about balance, and everyone around me is happy. That makes it so much easier to go out and play because that side of things is calm.”