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Rory McIlroy believes he is nearing his best after recovering from the ‘mental deflation’ of his miserable experience at the Masters.

The four-time major champion failed to perform with huge expectations on his shoulders at Augusta National, stumbling with rounds of 72 and 77 to miss the cut for the second time in three Masters starts.

McIlroy declined to speak to reporters after his shock early exit and sacrificed a $3million PGA Tour Player Impact Program bonus when he withdrew from the following week’s RBC Heritage – his second missed designated event of the season.

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The Northern Irishman spoke before his T47 finish at the Wells Fargo Championship of his need for a mental break after a “taxing 12 months” that has seen him emerge as the unofficial chief spokesperson against the Saudi-backed breakaway LIV circuit.

But attention has quickly turned to McIlroy’s second major of the year, the PGA Championship at Oak Hill in Rochester, a course where he is a member.

And a refreshed, but albeit subdued McIlroy is seeing positive signs in his game five weeks on from his Masters disappointment.

“Golf is golf, and it happens and you’re going to have bad days,” he said in Tuesday’s press conference.

“It wasn’t really the performance of Augusta that’s hard to get over, it’s just more the mental aspect and the deflation of it and sort of trying to get your mind in the right place to start going forward again.”

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On the chances of ending his nine-year major drought this week, McIlroy added: “I think I’m close. I think I’ve made some good strides even from Quail Hollow a couple weeks ago. I’m seeing some better things, better start lines, certainly just some better golf shots.

“I expect to go out there, and if I can execute the way that I feel like I can, then I still believe that I’m one of the best players in the world and I can produce good golf to have a chance of winning this week.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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