Rory McIlroy hopes positive Akron memories can spur revival
Rory McIlroy is hopeful that positive memories from this week 12 months ago can reignite his golf game at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational event.
McIlroy's fifth place at Akron last year was followed a week later by his stunning eight-shot victory at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
A year on, McIlroy is in the midst of a slump but he insisted that he remains optimistic on Wednesday.
"It's a course (Firestone Country Club) I feel I can do well on," said McIlroy.
"If something similar can happen to last year when I was fifth, that would set up for the last major of the season and a great end of the year."
McIlroy described his golf as "brain dead" two weeks ago after firing a dismal opening 79 at the Open Championship at Muirfield.
The Northern Irishman has dropped to third in the world rankings with Open champion Phil Mickelson now behind number one Tiger Woods as McIlroy continues to be without a win since his multi-million switch to Nike equipment.
A second-round 75 saw him missing the cut by four shots at Muirfield and the Akron event is McIlroy's first tournament since the season's third major.
But despite McIlroy's struggles in Scotland, he insists that he will go into this week in a good frame of mind.
The 24-year-old said that he enjoyed some "relaxed golf" with friends at home in Northern Ireland last week with one of his rounds at Clandeboye including a finishing run of seven straight birdies.
"When you were younger you would do anything you could to get out on the golf course.
"It's great to just play with friends you have grown up with, it brings you back and makes you realise why you play this game."
McIlroy also got in some "good work" with his coach Michael Bannon and he has had a couple of sessions with his putting guru Dave Stockton since his return to the US.
Stockton has also reiterated his advice to McIlroy that he needs to smile more and have better body language on the course, even when things are not going well.
"The thing he said last year that I am trying to do again is that if someone is watching you from the outside, don't let them know whether you have made a birdie or a bogey," said McIlroy, who will play the first two rounds at Firestone with Canadian Open winner Brandt Snedeker.
"I've become a little too emotionally involved with my golf over the past few months and let it either get me excited or down where I should not get too high or too low."