McIlroy feels he can hit new heights after extended break
Rory McIlroy is confident his career can hit new heights after ending his season in disappointing fashion at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Sunday.
The four-time major winner will take a three-month hiatus after finishing 20 shots adrift of champion Tyrrell Hatton at St Andrews.
McIlroy opted to take an extended break at the end of a year in which he has been troubled by a rib injury and plans to use his extra time off to try to get back to the peak of his powers.
The former world number one knows he has work to do, but feels his best is yet to come.
"I feel I'm a much better player than I was in 2011 and 2012, when I was able to win a couple of majors," the Northern Irishman said.
"I feel I can do better than that in the next 10 years and that's why these next three months are very important for me to put some really good things in place, step away and just reassess where I'm at and where I need to be.
"The landscape of the game has changed a bit since I started to win majors. You have young, hungry guys now who are fearless and playing the game how I basically came out and played a few years ago.
"It's about gaining an advantage again here and there. Just reassessing everything and making sure I'm not leaving any stone unturned and do everything I can to get back to [becoming] the best player in the world."
McIlroy signed for a four-under final round of 72 in his last tournament of the year and felt such an indifferent day was a demonstration of why he has fallen short this season.
He added: "I think my last round of 2017 summed up all of 2017, not much happening good or bad just sort of stuck in neutral.
"It hasn't been the year I wanted, I started the year with grand ambitions of trying to add to my major tally and win tournaments and get back near the top of the world rankings.
"I haven't been able to do that, but even though I haven't won and the results haven't been what I wanted I still feel like I can salvage something from the rest of this year even though I'm not playing. I've given myself an opportunity to put a lot of foundations in place going forward.
"I think there are a lot of areas of my game that need sharpening up; wedge play and putting would be the two main areas that I need to get better at. Basically all areas of my game could get a little bit better."