Rory McIlroy put his personal turmoil behind him to win the European PGA Championship at Wentworth yesterday and says he hopes it will help him become the dominant player in world golf.
The Northern Irishman, who announced his split from fiancee and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki on the eve of the tournament, fired a sparkling six-under 66 to come from seven shots back and win by a stroke from Ireland's Shane Lowry.
In April, McIlroy said golf was crying out for a stand-out player to stamp their authority on the game following the regression of Tiger Woods after years of the American leading the way.
"I think it's the start of something," the 25-year-old said yesterday. "I could feel my game sort of bubbling and it was getting there. A win validates that."
McIlroy headed to Ireland to see his family immediately after his win in the European Tour's flagship event and was due to fly to the United States today.
There he will play in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village before travelling to Pinehurst where he will attempt to win his third major title at this year's US Open.
The Irishman's win was his first since the Australian Open in December and came during an emotional week when he broke off his engagement to former world No1 tennis player Wozniacki.
And the former world No1 golfer - No10 before this tournament - is desperate for the victory to kick-start his rise to the top of the game again.
"I think the game is waiting for one guy or one or two guys to just kick on," McIlroy said.
"I stand by that comment; that I'd like to be that guy, and I'd like to think that this is a springboard to doing something like that. There's still three majors to play this year, a lot of golf left and a lot of big tournaments to try and win.
"So even though we're nearly halfway through the season, I feel like mine's just beginning."
McIlroy has never played Pinehurst - the venue for this year's US Open - before but will be making a trip there immediately after the Memorial to size up the course.
He won at Congressional in 2011 and the US PGA Championship in 2012 at Kiawah Island and is confident the changes at Pinehurst will fit his game.
"I can only go on what I've read and what I've heard about Pinehurst because I've never been there," he said. "No rough for a US Open is going to be very different. You're obviously going to have to be pretty long off the tee, but most of the guys are these days. Most of the guys can get it out there.
"It will just be about second shots, and I think you'll have to be very imaginative around the greens and you'll have to bump it into the hills and run it up, and some guys might try and fly it up on top of the greens."