McIlroy hopes to 'storm the castle' at Royal Portrush

Jose Verdugo
Julio 14, 2019

Any fears Rory McIlroy harboured regarding the scale of an Open Championship in his native Northern Ireland were banished on a weekend reconnaissance visit to Royal Portrush.

"It's spectacular, it's unbelievable. It still just feels like Portrush to me", McIlroy said of his practice round on Saturday.

"It's bigger, it's tougher and obviously all the infrastructure out there".

"I missed a good chance for birdie on the first and played the front nine in three under, which is a good front nine of golf but you're not really thinking about challenging the course record at that point".

"As much as these weeks set you up for the week after, I'm playing with this event with two eyes firmly focused on the Scottish Open", added the 30-year-old, who has never won a tournament in Scotland.

"The success of Darren, Graeme, myself and Padraig as well was part of the reason why the R&A wanted to come here, and also the work done by the [club general manager] Wilma Erskine and the people of Portrush".

McIlroy opted against competing in the Irish Open last week - a tournament he hosted for the previous four years - in favour of contesting the ASI Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club and insists he is not simply preparing for Portrush.

"I'm in a very lucky position".

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"It might be (another) 68 years until Portrush gets the Open, so go out and enjoy it. Smell the roses".

"And I'd say, "well, I'd go out and not have a care in the world". "And I think that if I continue to play with that freedom, and not be as careful or as tentative when I get myself in these pressure situations, it's going to be the best way for me to produce the golf that I produced in Canada".

"I still have to enjoy it".

"If I went back 10 years to when I was starting off and I thought that in 10 years' time, this is what you've achieved and this is where you're going to be in the game, how would you go out and play?"

"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".

"My second week of competitive golf is usually my best week", said the Northern Irishman. His best Opens in recent times have come in fast running conditions - at Carnoustie past year and Murfield in 2013 - when he can keep driver in the bag and two-iron his way around. "So if I can have that familiar feeling and that leads to certainty in my game and certainty in what I'm trying to do next week, that's a good thing".

"I think most tournaments deserve to stand on their own two feet and have some stature, and The Scottish Open is one of these events on the European Tour. I'm fully focused on getting out there and playing well this week and trying to get myself in the mix".

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