McIlroy: Forget last year

Rory McIlroy says he has banished the demons of the last year to his furthest recesses ahead of this year's Honda Classic.

Northern Irishman McIlroy was defending champion in Palm Beach, Florida, last year when he walked off the PGA National course midway through his second round, initially telling reporters he was in a "bad place mentally" before citing toothache as the cause of his early exit.

The 24-year-old subsequently apologised for the incident and admitted he should have battled through the bad form which blighted most of 2013 following his multi-million pound switch to Nike.

It took McIlroy until December to register his only win of the season, but the 24-year-old has shown glimpses of his best form already this year - despite a second-round exit from the WGC-Accenture Match Play last week - and can also enjoy some home comforts this week.

The world No 8 said: "I really can't wait to get back to The Honda. It is one of my favourite events of the year and winning in 2012 was an important landmark in my career.

"Having a place in Palm Beach now also gives the tournament a kind of special feeling - nearly like a home event.

"Last year, admittedly, I had a tough week, a forgettable week. I guess I let frustrations get the better of me and perhaps should have adopted a more mature approach."

Seven of the world's top 10 are in the field this week, with world No 1 Tiger Woods, Masters champion Adam Scott and Open winner Phil Mickelson returning to action after opting to miss last week's match play event in Arizona.

Jason Day, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson are the players to miss out, with Day taking a break after his WGC-Accenture victory which lifted him to a career-high fourth in the rankings, while Rose is again struggling with a shoulder injury.

Watch this year's Honda Classic unfold on Sky Sports 4HD from 19.00 on Thursday