Rory McIlroy will not only make his first appearance on the 2018 PGA Tour at this week's AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-am, he'll also do so with his dad by his side.
The two Northern Irishmen are seven-time veterans of the European Tour's Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, which utilises a similar pro-am and multi-course format, but this will be their debut on the clifftops of the Monterrey Peninsula.
McIlroy Junior is feeling relaxed about his return to action Stateside, even if he did miss the cut in his only previous competitive start at Pebble Beach in the 2010 U.S. Open.
"It's been a nice few days of preparing, seeing a couple of golf courses that I've never seen before," he said. "It's a tournament that I've always watched and I've thought one day it would be really cool to play with my dad."
The 28-year-old also reflected on his change in mood and expectations since 2017's injury-plagued travails.
"The last time I sat in an interview room on the PGA TOUR I wasn't feeling too good about myself," he admitted. "Now I'm just really happy to be back and looking forward to starting a busy run leading up to the first Major of the year.
"Being away from tournament golf for nearly four months meant I was a little bit anxious to see how I was going to play. But I got into tournament mode quite easily and played well. I took a lot of confidence from that."
He opened 2018 with third at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and second in the Dubai Desert Classic, expressing frustration in the aftermath of the latter at his inability to claim the win.
"That gives me a little bit of motivation," he said. "Because I had two, maybe one and a half, chances to win and I didn't.
"I was two ahead with eight to go in Dubai. I should have won that, I let that tournament slip. But I don't want to dwell on it too much. I'll go from there. I feel like where my game's at and how I'm feeling, if I do what I know I can do, I'll have chances."
McIlroy is 11.00 to win the tournament outright and 1.66 to finish the week as the top Irishman in a strong field of six which also includes Shane Lowry, Paul Dunne, Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington and Seamus Power.
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