By Mark Lamport-Stokes
DUBLIN, Ohio (Reuters) - Rory McIlroy has generally focused on quality rather than quantity when it comes to playing tournament golf but he has crammed his schedule with his U.S. Open title defense just over two weeks away.
Having missed the cut in his last two tournaments worldwide, the 23-year-old Northern Irishman has decided to sharpen his game by competing in this week's Memorial tournament and the June 7-10 St. Jude Championship in Memphis.
"I just feel like I need some rounds," world number two McIlroy told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday's opening round at a sun-drenched Muirfield Village Golf Club.
"These two-day weeks aren't really that good for me," he grinned broadly, "so I just want to get some competitive rounds in.
"I'm working on a few things, and I feel trying to put them into competition will be the best way for me to prepare going into the U.S. Open."
McIlroy missed the cut at the PGA Tour's elite Players Championship earlier this month and also failed to advance at the European Tour's flagship PGA Championship at Wentworth in England last week.
"Everyone goes through this, where they just don't feel that comfortable with their game," said the mop-haired Northern Irishman who has recorded four top-three finishes in just six starts on the U.S. circuit this year.
"It's funny because I felt really good the week at Quail Hollow, got into a playoff there. The Players I felt okay ... I tried my best, and it just didn't happen. I felt like my game was in good shape then.
"And then I took the week off and I came back to Wentworth and felt like it was okay, but once I got into the competitive rounds, I just started to doubt myself a little bit."
McIlroy, who won his third PGA Tour title at the Honda Classic in March, admitted to being stunned by his poor form in his last two appearances.
"When you've been on a run where you've hardly finished outside the top five and then all of a sudden two missed cuts, it's more of a shock than anything else," he said.
"It's something I haven't really had to deal with in a while. I just have to knuckle down and figure it out and get back to the way I was at the start of the year."
Britain's Luke Donald, who deposed McIlroy as world number one by winning the PGA Championship at Wentworth on Sunday, expected the Northern Irishman to regain his customary top form soon.
"Talent can only take you so far, and Rory sounds like he's kind of got to that point where everything has been pretty easy up until this point," the Englishman said.
"He's come into a little bit of a bad run of form, and this game does that to you. It's a fickle game, and it's tough. You've just got to work through it.
"From a personal standpoint, if I don't put the work in, I'm not going to get the results. It looks like he's trying to focus on practising a little bit harder and getting back to what he does."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Dublin, Ohio; Editing by Frank Pingue)