McIlroy: ‘No time like the present’
There’s no time like the present says Rory McIlroy – even if winning the Open makes him the youngest champion since 1893.
There is no time like the present as far as Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is concerned – even if winning the Open at St Andrews on Sunday makes him the youngest champion since 1893.
And the bookmakers agree.
Even though McIlroy has missed the cut in the first two majors of the season they make him the man most likely to stop Tiger Woods winning a third successive title at the Home of Golf.
“It just feels like it’s the right time to go out and play well and win one of these big events,” said the 21-year-old world number nine.
“I’ve played well here in the past and if I don’t let the occasion get the better of me, there’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to do it again.”
Three years ago, just a week into his professional career, the Northern Ireland youngster finished third in the Dunhill Links Championship and last October he came second.
Now he arrives confident in his ability to do what his fellow Northern Irishman and close friend Graeme McDowell did at the US Open a month ago.
Reminded that he has never shot worse than 69 on the Old Course, McIlroy knows he might not be able to continue that record.
“One of the things I noticed when I played here Friday and Saturday was how much different the course plays in the summer rather than when we play the Dunhill Links in October.
“The greens are a lot firmer, the fairways are a lot firmer, the ball can sort of run out a bit more – and there’s a few more bunkers off the fairway that come into play.
“The strategy that you would use in the Dunhill wouldn’t really work this week, so I’ve had to sort of change a few clubs off tees and everything and probably try to adopt a more conservative approach just to avoid all the bunkers out there that are waiting to swallow your ball up.
“I suppose playing well here in the past brings a little bit of added pressure knowing that I’m expecting myself to play well and I’m sure a lot of people are expecting me to play well.
“But I have a lot of great memories from this place and hopefully those can stand by me for the week.
“I tried to get a couple of early practice rounds in last week so that I wasn’t in any mad rush to get here. You can get swallowed up with the whole occasion and
I’m just trying to stay as low profile as possible – if that’s going to be possible.”
McIlroy is convinced that McDowell’s victory improves his chances.
He added: “Just because I’ve played so much golf with him. Just to see him win that gave me a lot of confidence to know winning a major wasn’t as far away as I thought it was.
“I had viewed winning majors as this sort of higher level and it just made me realise that it wasn’t. You just need to play well in the right week and a few things go your way.”
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