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Rory McIlroy plans busy start to 2016 with world No.1 spot in mind

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Rory McIlroy will take on a busier schedule at the beginning of the 2016 season in an attempt to regain the world No.1 spot before the Masters in April.

McIlroy trails Jordan Spieth and Jason Day in the world rankings but is targeting a return to the summit before next year's first major at Augusta.

The Northern Irishman played five tournaments ahead of the 2015 Masters, in which he finished a career-high fourth. McIlroy needs the Masters to complete a career Grand Slam.

"If I can get off to a good start next year, I can get back to number one going into the Masters," McIlroy is quoted as saying by the BBC. "I'm going to play two more tournaments leading up to Augusta in April."

"I need to feel I'm right in the middle of the season at Augusta. Over the last couple of years, I've played pretty well at Augusta but I've got off to a little bit of a slow start each time.

"Whether that was because I was a little bit under-golfed, that definitely won't be the case in 2016."

McIlroy was recently named European Tour Golfer of the Year and the 26-year-old picked up another award on Friday when it was announced he had won the Association of Golf Writers' trophy. He becomes only the third player to secure the prestigious award on three occasions, after Seve Ballesteros and Lee Westwood.

"When you think of the contributions that Seve and Lee made to European golf over the years, I am delighted to be linked with them at such an early age, and clearly I'm hoping to do enough to win the AGW trophy in future years as well," McIlroy said.

The four-time major winner edged Britain and Ireland's Walker Cup team, who beat the United States' leading amateurs 16.5-9.5 at Royal Lytham and St Annes in September, and Englishman Andy Sullivan to the award.

Sullivan finished third following an impressive breakthrough year on the European Tour: only Sullivan and McIlroy were three-time winners.

McIlroy's season ended in fine fashion last month when he won the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai to successfully defend his Race to Dubai crown.

"Winning in Dubai again meant a huge amount to me and enabled me to look at the year as a whole in a different light. It has also given me that bit of momentum going into next season," McIlroy added.

"I'd also like to congratulate our Walker Cup team as well on their stunning success. It must have been a very difficult decision for the golf writers."