McIlroy to play 'smarter' in bid for first Players title

Fowler finished tied-60th at the 2017 Players Championship

Rory McIlroy believes a conservative approach to taking on TPC Sawgrass is crucial to success at The Players Championship.

"I nearly won it, and so I just kind of assumed that it would come easy to me", the three-time major champion said Tuesday ahead of Thursday's start of the 45th Players Championship. A tie for sixth in 2014 remains the closest that he has come to adding the so-called fifth major and the $1.98 million (about £1.46 million) first prize to his collection of four major titles. He can frustrate you by the design of his golf courses, and you feel like you're getting bad breaks, and that can get under your skin a little bit.

"This is my ninth time here, so I'm not a spring chicken anymore".

As rank outsider Kim Si-woo showed by winning here last year, however, that it is an unpredictable event.Winners over the years have ranged from favourites such as Woods, Phil Mickelson, Greg Norman and David Duval, to the likes of outsiders such as South Korean Kim, New Zealander Craig Perks, South African Tim Clark and Canadian Stephen Ames.

"I didn't get that right the first few years". I love the golf course. All I wanted to do this year was to give myself chances, it wasn't about results. That was a year ago, and he had to close with a 68 to finish that high.

The Stadium Course is regarded as a fine test of golfers, demanding all round accuracy.

McIlroy has not had a bad season, highlighted by a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March, but this week will be his first high-pressure test since last month's U.S. Masters disappointment.

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McIlroy failed to capitalise on a strong position heading into the final round at Augusta last month, slipping out of contention with a 74 that left him six shots adrift of eventual victor Patrick Reed. "You have to just take what it gives you, and take you medicine when you get out of position". We're not even halfway through the season. He struggled around the greens and if he can get his putter to work, the two-time Players champion could indeed threaten the field.

Complacency will not be a problem for Day, who has a burning desire to regain his world number one ranking.

"I've gotten to know Sir Alex pretty well over the years", he said. "I just didn't have a feel for the golf course, and I just didn't make the adjustments".

He says his swing got knocked around in the wind last week, and that he started hitting big hooks, so he has been working hard with coach Col Swatton.

"It's still not quite there".

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 06: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his second shot from the seventh fairway during the final round of the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club on May 6, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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