DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) For Rory McIlroy, 2011 will be all about consistency.
The 21-year-old from Northern Ireland, who even Tiger Woods has pegged as the future world No. 1, had some stellar performances this year - tying for third at both the British Open and the PGA Championship. But he also failed to win on the European Tour and saw his world ranking drop from No. 9 to No. 10.
McIlroy said he had given himself "a few chances" on the European Tour this year, but for the most part "hasn't played good enough." He noted that he finished third in Abu Dhabi, was in contention at the Dubai Desert Classic and just missed out in a playoff at the French Open.
"I think there's been, as I said, parts of the season have been very good. I've swung it really well. In the summer at the French Open, Akron and the PGA, I played some of my best golf and swung it really well," said McIlroy, who is playing at this week's Dubai World Championship.
"There's been points in the season like during the FedEx Cup where I haven't quite had it. So, yeah, I'm just looking for a bit more consistency next year. And yeah, just try and improve and feel as if I'm on the right track."
McIlroy, who this time last year led the Race to Dubai only to lose out to Lee Westwood in the season-ending tournament, said he still had "bittersweet memories" of his collapse. Still, he said he is playing well coming into this week and is hopeful that at least he could move into the top five money winners with a good showing.
"There is still a lot to play for, but obviously it's not the edge of having a chance to win the money list," he said. "Obviously, it would be nice to finish the season on a high note with a win or something like that."
With his baby face and curly hair, McIlroy has proven a popular draw on both the European and PGA tour since turning pro in 2007. He earned his European card without going to Q-school and broke into the top 10 in the world all before he turned 21. He claimed his first PGA Tour win in May, bringing Quail Hollow to its knees with a 62 on Sunday.
But McIlroy - who would have been the youngest major champion since John McDermott won the U.S. Open in 1911 if he won the PGA Championship - said his game must improve if he is going to rise through the ranks. He said his putting has gotten better this year and he has more variety in his short game yet his overall game needs work.
"This year, I think I started 9th in the world and am currently 10th so in that way it has not been spectacular," he said. "I've been working on a few things the past few weeks and if I can keep working on those through December and January hopefully I'll come out for the 2011 season ready to go."