Rory McIlroy is thrown a club by his caddie, JP Fitzgerald, on the 18th hole during a pro-am round before the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Rory McIlroy seems to abide by the adage of the best lesson in life being that it is never too late to learn. As he reflected on a season that will end on Sunday, he admitted being “too proud” and “too stubborn” has been costly.
McIlroy has won three titles this year and, owing to course specialism, is the favourite to prevail again at the DP World Tour Championship. Still, by his own standards, the failure to win a major – compounded by missing the cut in two – has been a lingering disappointment. Putting troubles played the key role, with McIlroy eventually turning for help to Pete Kenyon.
“I have learned sometimes to not be too proud,” McIlroy said. “I felt like I went long enough without asking advice on putting when that was the thing letting me down. I really needed a second opinion.
“I was too stubborn, I wanted to figure it out on my own because I always feel if you do that, you take own take ownership of it and it’s yours. Sometimes you need a second opinion. I got that in August and it really turned the season round for me.
“I’ve won a couple of things I hadn’t won before. I won the Irish Open, which was a huge thing personally. It might not be the biggest tournament in the world but in my mind it is one of the biggest I play all year. That was nice, to be able to knock that off, and to win the FedEx Cup as well was big.
“My play in majors was disappointing. I had a top-five at The Open but that was soon forgotten because of what Henrik Stenson and Phil Mickelson did. Majors aside, I feel like it’s been a pretty good, consistent year but going into next year, I’d like to think that my performances in the majors are going to be better.”
McIlroy will not be undercooked in the first of them, the Masters. He revealed an early 2017 schedule that will include appearances in South Africa, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Los Angeles, Florida, Mexico City, as well as at Bay Hill and possibly in Texas before Augusta National.
He will spend time pre-Christmas testing new equipment after Nike’s decision to withdraw from club and ball manufacturing left the 27-year-old a free agent.
One place McIlroy is unlikely to appear is Turkey. His absence from the Turkish Airlines Open earlier this month because of security fears prompted criticism from the president of the country’s golf federation.
McIlroy was asked whether his Turkey decision, combined with non-participation at the Olympic Games in Rio, may have affected his reputation. “I think I do enough good things on and off course charity-wise and with the way I carry myself that pulling out of two events is not going to change that,” he said.
“I’d rather go to Turkey wanting to win the tournament than go there not wanting to win it and finish 40th. What good does that do the tournament? It does nothing for them.
“The biggest way to promote golf in Turkey is not my face on posters but winning the tournament and that won’t happen if I don’t feel comfortable being there. Will I play there next year? I don’t know; after what I read this year, probably not.”
Turkey’s European Tour event was named as one of an initial seven to make up the new Rolex Series from 2017.