Sport Golf

Sunday 18 August 2019

McIlroy aims to make Portrush his land of Open glory

Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP
Rory McIlroy. Photo: AP

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy insists that he cannot let the pressure of winning at home get to him when he seeks a dream end to his five-year Major drought in The Open at Royal Portrush.

The Holywood star (30) has set out his schedule to hit peak form for next month's Claret Jug quest on the Antrim coast and he's hugely confident given his form and his stellar Open record.

"I haven't tried to hide that fact that it's playing a Major championship basically at home," McIlroy said.

"I have to go out there with a good mindset and obviously not let the occasion get the better of me and hopefully produce some good golf and give myself a chance."

After finishing first, tied fifth, tied fourth and tied second in his last four Open Championships, McIlroy is bullish about his chances.

"I think it obviously will make it more special if I could win at Portrush," he said.

"But I just have to treat it like every other Open Championship that I've played the last few years, and my record in The Open the last few years has been better than pretty much any other tournament I've played.

"I haven't finished outside the top five in the last four or five."

As for his final round 72 in the US Open, where he tied for ninth behind Gary Woodland, he said: "Obviously didn't get off to a great start. But I felt like I responded really well.

"If someone had told me at the start of the day, you're going to make six birdies today, I'd be like, well, I might have a chance.

"But I obviously made too many mistakes and the double on two, I felt was a bit of a bad break.

"That ball pitched in the bunker and then went into that long rough and sort of didn't really have a chance from there.

"I would have had to have shot 64 to just tie Gary. So there was no way, after that start, that I had a chance to win. It was just about trying to finish as high up as possible, and I tried to do that. I sort of went chasing a little bit."

After missing the cut in his previous three US Opens, he said: "I thought it was a good display, especially with my record in the US Open the last few years.

"To be in the final few groups and feel that on Sunday is a welcome change."

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