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I'll thrive in the spotlight - McIlroy

ESPN staff
March 7, 2012 « Haye investigation still ongoing | Chartbeat test »

Newly crowned world No. 1 Rory McIlroy makes no apologies for enjoying the trappings of success and believes he has the strength of character to deal with the pressure of top spot.

A week after being denied the top spot by Hunter Mahan at the Accenture Match Play in Arizona, McIlroy became the youngest world No. 1 since Tiger Woods after holding off a trademark Sunday charge from the American at the Honda Classic in Philadelphia.

On Monday night he turned his hand to tennis, taking to court at an exhibition event in Madison Square Garden after an impromptu invitation from girlfriend and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

And while some may question his focus, the 22-year-old Northern Irishman believes he can balance the perks and demands of his newfound status.

"It depends what type of mind you have - if you thrive in the spotlight or you welcome it," said McIlroy. "I feel like I do like the attention. I'm not saying I'm an attention-seeker, but you like to know you're doing something right. I'd love to keep myself here for a while."

McIlroy remains in confident mood ahead of the first round of the Cadillac Championship alongside main rivals and fellow Britons Lee Westwood and Luke Donald, who is intent on regaining the No. 1 ranking at the earliest opportunity - not that the challenge fazes his young compatriot.

"I know that it's inevitable that I'll lose it at some point, but I don't feel like I'm under any pressure to keep the No. 1 ranking, because that's not what I play golf for. It's about winning tournaments, and if I do that, then the ranking will take care of itself."

McIlroy was bombarded with messages of congratulation following his superb victory in Philadelphia, including two text message from Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson and Wayne Rooney - prized trophies for a lifelong United fan.

"I've been to Old Trafford many times and met them briefly," he said. "To have their support and for them to reach out to you, it's pretty surreal. It's a nice position to be in."

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