World number one Rory McIlroy has admitted he does not love golf as much as he used to as a child.
The 25-year-old will complete a career grand slam if he adds the Masters, which starts on Thursday, to his Open, US Open and PGA Championship titles.
However, the Northern Irishman said: “I would be dishonest if I said my love of golf now is as big as it was back then. “I don’t love golf as much as when it was just pure joy to get on to the course to play.”
He continued: “When I was a kid, if I spent a day away from the game, I couldn’t wait to get back. Now I can’t wait for a week off. “There’s just not the ‘I can’t wait to get out of the house as quick as I can to get to the course’ feeling.
“This is not a job. Let’s face it, I’ve never done a day’s work in my life. But it’s an intense environment I play in and it’s just nice to get away from it for a while.” McIlroy won his first major, the 2011 US Open, aged 22, and has since won the US PGA in 2012 and 2014, and last year’s Open at Royal Liverpool.
But he insists he will never live up to the profile of 14-time major winner Tiger Woods, who returns to the Masters this year after a voluntary leave of absence. “People tell me I am the new face of golf, but that is a hard one for me to fathom because, growing up, I never even thought about being that,” added McIlroy.
“Tiger Woods is the face of the game to the wider public and I don’t think I’ll ever be that, just because of who I am, who he is, what he represents and the people he brought to the sport. “I’m never going to do that – it’s not something that’s going to be possible.”