McIlroy in good spirits

Rory McIlroy is in good spirits ahead of the WGC Bridgestone Invitational - his first tournament since winning The Open.

The Northern Irishman will be looking to continue his consistent season, which has seen him post two wins, two runner-up finishes, six top tens and 16 top 25s from 17 events so far.

The 25-year-old won his third major at Royal Liverpool and is in good spirits, admitting he's been extra careful with the Claret Jug since then.

"When it's sort of being passed around I'm like 'err' but no, it's okay, it's fine if you're just in the company of your friends and people that you trust, it's fine," said McIlroy.

"Keegan (Bradley) was sharing a story with me today, whenever he won the PGA he went to the bar near where we live in Palm Beach Gardens and he said he was letting everyone in the bar drink out of it.

"And I was like, I know the people who go in there - I wouldn't be letting all them drink out of that!"

Although former world No 1 McIlroy now has three majors to his name after his win in Hoylake, he has yet to taste success in a World Golf Championship event.

But it is also a big week for McIlroy's potential teammates at September's Ryder Cup. With a $9 million prize fund and world ranking points to match, players on the fringe of automatic selection for Gleneagles can give themselves a huge boost with a high finish in Ohio.

The likes of Stephen Gallacher, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Miguel Angel Jiménez will all be looking to finish as high as possible.

Of course the same goes for players already assured of a place in Paul McGinley's team.

Sergio Garcia - the man who chased McIlroy home at Royal Liverpool and eventually finished second by two strokes - is also chasing a first WGC title.

His record at Firestone is distinctly ordinary, however, with just one top-10 finish in 14 appearances. That was a tie for seventh on his debut back in 1999.

World No 3 Henrik Stenson will also be looking to go one better - the Swede was tied second behind Tiger Woods 12 monts ago.

The American has a remarkable record at Firestone. He has won eight times from 14 appearances, and has twice won three years in a row - 1999-2001, and 2005-7.

But Woods is coming off a 69th-place finish and his highest career total score in the Open and badly needs a win this week to secure his own Ryder Cup place.

You can watch Rory McIlroy in action at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational live on Sky Sports 4HD from Thursday at 6.30pm