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Golf: Rory McIlroy on top of the world ... again

updated 7:34 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
Rory McIlroy will attempt to win the fourth major of his career at the Valhalla Golf Club.
Rory McIlroy will attempt to win the fourth major of his career at the Valhalla Golf Club.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rory McIlroy is back on top of golf's world rankings
  • The Northern Irishman won the World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio
  • It was the first tournament McIlroy had played since winning the British Open
  • McIlroy is favorite to win this week's U.S. PGA Championship

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(CNN) -- Rory McIlroy is once again top of golf's world rankings and, on the evidence of his current form, the Northern Irishman is set for a long stay at the summit.

Two weeks after winning the British Open, McIlroy overhauled Spain's Sergio Garcia to triumph at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio on Sunday.

The 25-year-old posted a four-under-par final round of 66 to finish 15 under for the tournament, two strokes clear of Garcia -- who tied for second behind McIlroy at Hoylake last month.

McIlroy is now red-hot favorite to seal his fourth major crown at the U.S. PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at the Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky.

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"It's the most comfortable I've ever felt trying to close out a golf tournament out there today," he told the PGA Tour's official website after eating up Garcia's three-shot overnight lead in the final round at Firestone, during which Tiger Woods withdrew with a recurrence of his back injury.

"I felt normal," McIlroy added. "I felt like it was the first round or the second round. It didn't feel like a fourth round."

His fortunes are in stark contrast to this time last year.

A switch of equipment supplier coincided with a slump in performance which culminated with McIlroy enduring a torrid time at the 2013 British Open, where he failed to make the cut.

Fast forward 12 months and McIlroy has the Claret Jug sat on his mantelpiece after successfully mastering his Nike clubs -- in particular his driver.

He hit the ball further than any of his competitors over the four days of play at the World Golf Championships event, leading the field in driving distance with an average of 317 yards.

"The big thing for me is if you let it affect you mentally, it makes it more difficult," said McIlroy, reflecting on his difficult spell last year.

"If you can stay strong mentally when you're going through the struggles you always seem to come out the other side OK.

"It's when it affects you mentally you can start to lose confidence, then you're losing confidence in your swing. It can spiral out of control, kind of like I did last summer."

McIlroy will be aiming to win the season's final major for the second time in his career when the action tees off later this week.

Blog: McIlroy fulfills golfing destiny

Read: PGA Tour denies Johnson ban

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