McIlroy relishing Open Championship at 'spectacular' Royal Portrush

14 Juillet, 2019, 05:54 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
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His affinity with the Dunluce Links course goes back to his time spent there as a youth watching his father, Gerry, play the course in the annual North of Ireland Amateur.

"It might be (another) 61 years until Portrush gets the Open again, so go out and enjoy this".

"The last 10 years have been a dream and I think one of the big things for me next week is to enjoy the experience".

"And I'd say, 'Well, I'd go out and not have a care in the world'". See friends and family.

The round in question was at Royal Portrush and can never be surpassed given the changes to the course made since, but it would have been a fearless soul to bet on anyone wiping McIlroy's name from the record books in any event. "I was thinking, 'how much have they changed it and how different is it going to feel?'"

McIlroy is one of his country's most famous exports and he recognises that his exploits, alongside those of Darren Clarke, Graeme McDowell and the Republic of Ireland's Padraig Harrington, have played a role in bringing The Open to Portrush for the first time since 1951.

The four-time major victor, who shot a course-record 61 there at the age of 16, will be the home favourite at the links in Northern Ireland, which he says has improved significantly since his younger days. When I got on the first tee, everything sort of started coming back to me: On the second tee, I aim it at the brown house, the fourth...everything started to come back.

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"It's amusing. I keep thinking back and in that stretch of golf there's two tough holes, the 14th (Calamity Corner), which is now the 16th, and then the old 16th, which is now the 18th".

Rory McIlroy knows he will carry the hopes of a nation when golf's oldest major returns to Northern Ireland next week.

"It's the same golf course I've grown up playing my whole life, and it's the same tournament that I haven't finished outside the top five for the last few years".

"It's different shots, different greens, different conditions. The more I can enjoy that, roll with it and play with that freedom, the better I think I can do".

"It's not as if I want to just come here and go through the motions and get myself ready". His best Opens in recent times have come in fast running conditions - at Carnoustie a year ago and Murfield in 2013 - when he can keep driver in the bag and two-iron his way around. So it deserves to stand-alone and not just be this tournament that's attached on to the week after.

But he has no plans to heap further pressure on himself by putting all his focus on the majors in the style of Brooks Koepka, the world No 1 who seems to save all his effort for the four big events. I'd rather lose playing that way than lose playing conservatively and not really giving myself a chance.

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