Return to No. 1 is key for McIlroy

LOS ANGELES • Rory McIlroy has set his sights on regaining the world No. 1 ranking from Jordan Spieth in time for the Masters as he prepares to make his debut at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles this week.

The Northern Irish golfer, who has slipped to third in the latest world rankings behind Spieth and Australia's Jason Day, hopes that his appearance in California will kick-start his season.

"I can get off to a good start (to the) year, there's no reason why I can't be the No. 1 player in the world going into Augusta," said McIlroy.

Apart from recapturing the top ranking, he is also chasing a career Grand Slam at the Masters.

"That's a goal of mine, to get off to a fast start... and try to reclaim that position as quickly as I can."

This week's Northern Trust at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades should suit his strong ball-striking game.

"I've heard Riviera is a great course, and I want to go play there in LA, and I think it'll be a good course for me," he said.

Spieth has already experienced the Riviera's challenging layout. He was part of the Texas college team that won the NCAA championship at the course in 2012 and he tied for 12th there in 2014, before finishing tied for fourth there last season.

"This tournament means a lot to me," said the Texan. "I think this is one of the greatest golf courses in the world. This event is one that I owe a lot to."

The tournament tees off tomorrow.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 17, 2016, with the headline 'Return to No. 1 is key for McIlroy'. Print Edition | Subscribe