McIlroy hungry to improve after ‘lost year’

epa04700577 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits hits tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round at the 2015 Masters Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, Georgia, USA, 11 April 2015. The Masters Tournament is held 09 April through 12 April 2015. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

The form shown by Jordan Spieth and Jason Day this season has given Rory McIlroy the hunger to improve his golf game and make up for a “lost year”, the Northern Irishman said on Friday.

Four-times major winner McIlroy has dropped from first to third in the world behind number two Day and the top-ranked Spieth.

Spieth and Day have both pulled off a string of victories this year, with the American landing the U.S. Masters, U.S. Open and FedExCup playoff crowns and the Australian winning the U.S. PGA Championship.

“It’s motivating to see what these guys are doing,” McIlroy told the BBC.

“You want to go out and work harder, you want to hit more balls and try to keep getting better. It has definitely given me that sense of hunger again.”

The 26-year-old Northern Irishman ruptured ankle ligaments in July playing a friendly game of football with his friends.

The injury meant he missed the British Open at St Andrews and led McIlroy to describe 2015 as a “lost year”.

“I only missed one major but it was probably the biggest one you could miss,” he said. “I, for sure, won’t be playing any football in the middle of the season again.

“I’ll still want to play football in the off-season and enjoy my time with my friends as that’s what we all do but maybe be a little more careful in the middle of the golf season.”