SAN FRANCISCO -- Former world number one Rory McIlroy is hoping to build on recent near-misses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai as he steps up his Masters preparation on Thursday at the PGA Tour's Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The Northern Irish star has enjoyed a solid start to the year, finishing in a tie for third at the Abu Dhabi Championship last month before a second place at the Dubai Desert Classic.
McIlroy, who returned to the top 10 last month after failing to win an event last year for the first time in nearly a decade, said he had taken positives from recent results.
His runner-up spot in Dubai came after he blew a two-shot lead down the stretch to give China's Li Haotong the biggest win of his career.
However McIlroy said simply being in position to win had been encouraging.
"I had two chances to win golf tournaments and I didn't," McIlroy said of his performances in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
"But great building blocks. I don't want to dwell on them too much -- I take them for what they are, which are good performances in a couple of pretty solid golf tournaments.
"They were two good confidence builders going into this part of the season," the four-time Major winner added.
"I feel like the best way to prepare you for a big week like the Masters is to be in contention, feeling those nerves down the stretch. I feel like the more I play, the more chance I'm going to give myself to be in that position," added McIlroy, who is playing this week's tournament in California for the first time.
Another former world number one, Australia's Jason Day, is also satisfied with his form ahead of Pebble Beach.
Day returned to the top 10 in the world rankings last month after defeating Alex Noren in a play-off at the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. It was the Australian's first title since the 2016 Players Championship.
Day told reporters Wednesday he was eager to add to his career tally of 11 PGA Tour wins and one major.
"Every mindset that I take into every tournament should be like, 'This could be my last tournament,’" Day said.
"Because I don't know what's happening around the corner. My back could be gone, and I may not be able to pick up a golf club again.
"I need to go and try and win every single event, because who knows what's going to happen around the corner."
© Agence France-Presse
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