McIlroy has struggled to perform to his best in the PGA Tour’s fan-free environment since it returned in June, recording a best finish of 11th in five events since the restart.
That contrasts sharply with his form before the sport was forced to shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the four-time major winner finishing third in the Farmers Insurance Open and then fifth in each of his next three starts.
McIlroy admits he has found it “easy to lose focus” without the noise and excitement generated by spectators but is hoping memories of his 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play victory at this week’s venue of Harding Park will work in his favour.
“If I can just keep playing like that and keep being a little bit more efficient with my scoring, I’ll be right where I need to be.”
McIlroy won seven straight matches at Harding Park in 2015 to lift the Match Play title and although the course set up and routing will be slightly different, such good memories can only be a plus for the world number three.
“I think if I remember anything about the week is that I played well when I needed to and I hit good shots at the right times, and that’s sort of what you need to do in match play,” he added.
“It’s nice to have some memories around a golf course that you’re playing a major championship on. It’s nice to have those memories and be able to recall some of the shots that you’ve hit.
“Hopefully some of that can help me this week and can rekindle that sort of form that helped me win here a few years ago.”