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McIlroy plays a shot from the 17th tee during a practice round prior to the 2018 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

It all starts to unfold Thursday, the final time The Players Championship will be held in May after a 12-year run before returning to the pre-Masters date in March.

"I started staying on the beach a few years ago, and that's made the event a lot more enjoyable", McIlroy said. "I actually think you come out better hitting really bad shots than by just barely missing".

"This is my ninth time here, so I'm not a spring chicken anymore".

McGirt sat out last week's Wells Fargo Championship, the first of two tournaments in his home state, and is among one of the most prestigious fields in all of golf.

The victor of 11 PGA Tour titles hasn't won this year and has four top-10s in 10 individual starts.

"If I can put myself in the final group of some other events coming up, then hopefully I'll have some recent experience, and I'll deal with it a bit better [than he did at The Masters]", he said.

"All I wanted to do this year was give myself chances". But you start to appreciate the design of the golf course and appreciate the game-plan and the tactics you need to be successful around here. But since then the Northern Irishman has finished eighth, sixth, eighth and 12th before a tie for 35th past year.

Pausing for effect, before flashing a smile, the former world No.1 - who has confirmed he will play at the British Open in Carnoustie in July - said: "I'm definitely not against that".

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"There's no way of faking it around this golf course", said Woods, who won his first U.S. Amateur at Sawgrass in 1994.

Playing the final round with eventual victor Patrick Reed, McIlroy was never a factor after missing a four-foot eagle putt at the second hole. We're not even halfway through the season. "You have to just take what it gives you, and take you medicine when you get out of position".

"To be here is a great honour, it's one of the biggest golf tournaments in the world, maybe the fifth major".

World No.12 Casey has been in excellent form this year.

Defending champion Si Woo Kim will be playing alongside major winners Adam Scott and Martin Kaymer, and the all-English trio of Ian Poulter, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood is sure to entertain. It is. It's sort of I stayed pretty much on property there at the - at that hotel, and I just felt like I couldn't get away from it, and it's busy and there's a lot of people, and so to go and stay on the beach now, it's a nice sort of release from everything that's going on around the event.

"It's still not quite there".

Sometimes, it's the simplest things that make a difference, even for a multi-zillionaire like Rory McIlroy.

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