McIlroy making up time
Rory McIlroy will be hoping to make up for lost time when he plays in The 145th Open at Royal Troon.
The former World No. 1 missed last year’s Championship after injuring his ankle playing football and he freely admits he found it difficult watching the rest of the world’s best players battling it out to claim the Claret Jug he had won at Hoylake the year before.
“I’m excited to be back,” he said. “Obviously I missed last year at St Andrews. I was very disappointed because of all the courses on the Open rota I’d earmarked St Andrews as offering me the best chance to win.
“But now I’m back and hopefully by the end of the week I can try to put my name on that Claret Jug for a second time.”
In part due to that enforced absence it is now some 23 months since McIlroy won the last of his four Major titles at the 2014 PGA Championship but that is not something he is unduly concerned about. Indeed, he believes he might well be close to returning to the sort of form that helped him to claim consecutive Majors in the summer of 2014.
“I’m happy with my game,” he said. “It definitely feels more comfortable that it did in France. I’ve seen enough good signs in there that I’m very encouraged going into this week.
“One of the big things I’ve been doing is practising hitting shots into a left-to-right wind. I think that will be an important shot on the back nine this week and it feels very comfortable. I’ve also had two of my best putting rounds recently. I had my best putting round on the PGA Tour a few weeks ago at the Memorial and I had one of my best putting rounds on the European Tour at the French Open the last time I played. I feel like I’m holing my fair share.”
McIlroy set foot on Royal Troon for the first time late last week but he does not see that as a disadvantage as many of his peers are in the same position.
“Some of the older guys have played here before but most of the guys who are around the top of the Official World Golf Rankings didn’t play The Open at Troon the last time it was here.
“I think the course is pretty self-explanatory,” he added. “I had two good looks at the course last Thursday and Friday and another today. The big thing here is to keep out of the bunkers. There’s not a whole lot of learning to do on this course. Just make sure you’re comfortable with the clubs you’re hitting off the tees.”
The Ulsterman learnt the hard way how punitive the bunkers can be after becoming the latest victim of the Postage Stamp during today’s practice round.
“I hit it into the front right bunker and it took me about five or six goes to get out,” he admitted. “It’s one of those holes you just try to hit it into the middle of the green and then take two putts. If you make four threes this week, you’re probably going to gain a bit of ground on the field.”