Rory McIlroy is determined to dispel the cloud of uncertainty hanging over his game by embracing his favouritism heading into this week's Irish Open at Royal Portrush.
McIlroy is among eight Major winners in the field including local Portrush residents Graeme McDowell, winner of the 2010 US Open, and Darren Clarke, who has 25 days left as reigning Open Champion.
Also in the field and contesting his first ever European Tour event is reigning PGA Championship titleholder, American Keegan Bradley who will play the first two days of the European PGA Tour event in the company of McIlroy.
McIlroy holds the Royal Portrush course record of 11-under par 61, set in his only competitive appearance on the course during qualifying for the 2005 North of Ireland Amateur titles.
"Everything was on song that day apart from missing a six foot putt for birdie at the first," he said.
However a question on the minds of a sell-out 27,000 crowd over the first two days is whether McIlroy's game is on song for a sixth Irish Open appearance.
He's missed the cut in two of the biggest events this year, the Players Championship and last fortnight's US Open in San Francisco.
"The last couple of years I didn't quite enjoy the tag of home favourite heading into an Irish Open," he said.
"I just didn't feel very comfortable with it.
"But this year I really want to embrace the tag. You look at so many people and where they have got a home advantage, it is an advantage, and it should be not just for me but for the other Irish guys here, as well.
"It's something that you really have to embrace, and that's what I am going to try and do this week."
And McIlroy revealed he intends also taking a further leaf out of Tiger Woods' book and plans to play Royal Lytham and St. Annes in the week before the July 19th commencing British Open.
"I'll go up to Lytham for a couple of days the week before The Open, and just get ready that way," he said.
"I played three Lytham Trophies and the British Amateur there. I had a real good chance to win the Lytham Trophy twice, and Danny Willett beat me 5-up in the first round of the British Amateur.
"But Lytham is a great golf course and I'm looking forward to playing there."
And McIlroy will be looking to fare better than last year's Open at Royal St. George's where he and World No. 1 Luke Donald crashed out after two days.
Bradley has been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support he's received since arriving in Northern Ireland after finishing in a share of 29th in last week's Traveler's Championship in Connecticut.
"The area is unbelievable and the people are extraordinary, and I did not expect it to be like this," said Bradley.
"Everywhere I go around the course hundreds of people have told me, âwelcome home', which gives me chills almost every time they say it.
"It's such a neat thing to be able to say to me because I wasn't sure how I was going to be accepted over here, and to hear people saying âwelcome home' is a pretty special feeling."
Bradley has relatives in the Cork region of Ireland and travelled to Ireland once before when he was seven years of age.
His next appearance in Europe will be next fortnight's British Open.