Since Rory McIlroy last played an Open Championship at St Andrews in 2010, a lot has happened in his career. Over the past 12 years, the Northern Irish star has claimed 30 of his 33 professional wins alongside four Major titles, the most recent being The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in 2014.
Set to be defending Champion at The 144th Open at St Andrews in 2015, McIlroy was forced to miss out due to an injury sustained playing football. Remarkably, he has yet to win a Major since, and The 150th Open represents an opportunity for McIlroy to tackle unfinished business in only the second Open appearance at St Andrews for the 33-year-old.
“Twelve years ago, is that what it is? Wow!”, McIlroy said of his last appearance in a St Andrews Open. "It just gets me excited to get back to St Andrews to play an Open Championship.
“I should have been defending Champion there in 2015 and couldn’t because I got injured, and it’s been a long time coming around. I never got that opportunity to defend my title, especially at such a special place like St Andrews, so seven years on I’m excited for it.”
“Look, I can’t go into The Open approaching it like I’ve got unfinished business at this golf course. You know I feel like there’s enough pressure on me anyway without putting more on myself!” Rory Mcilroy
McIlroy has played in nine Open Championships since last taking to the Old Course in an Open, and the world number two's history with the venue, including shooting a then record-tying 63 for the lowest round in Major history in 2010 en route to a T3 finish, only adds to the Ulsterman’s excitement ahead of The 150th Open.
“It’s up there,” McIlroy said on where his first-round 63 in 2010 ranks among his career-best rounds. “St Andrews has always been a golf course that I’ve played well, I’ve always had a certain level of comfort on the golf course there. I’ve been lucky enough to shoot a lot of low scores in my career and, you know at that point, it just felt like I got in some sort of a zone.
“I wish I could have kept it going a bit, I struggled in the wind the second day, but I bounced back well on the weekend and ended up having a really good finish."
“I have maybe something to prove to myself and other people, but the way I’m playing I feel like I’m going in there with just as good a chance I’ve had at an Open since I can remember. ” rory mcilroy
Despite only having four rounds of Open Championship play under his belt at the historic Fife links, McIlroy is confident in his ability to contend in 2022.
“Yeah I feel like there is,” McIlroy said when asked if he had unfinished business at the Old Course. “Look, I can’t go into The Open approaching it like I’ve got unfinished business at this golf course. You know I feel like there’s enough pressure on me anyway without putting more on myself!
“But it’s one that I‘ve been looking forward to for a long, long time. Twelve years. I want to just make sure that I’m in the best possible shape to go there. I’m playing well, I’m playing some of the best golf I’ve played in a long time. I’ve played well in the Majors this year without getting the win, but I’ve contended in all of them really. So it’s a good opportunity.”
“I have maybe something to prove to myself and other people, but the way I’m playing I feel like I’m going in there with just as good a chance I’ve had at an Open since I can remember. You know even The Open that I won in 2014 seems like a long time ago now as well. So I would love to get my hands on another Claret Jug.
“There’s just something special about an Open at St Andrews, it only comes along once every few years, and it just seems like a bit of a bigger deal. You know everyone talks about winning an Open Championship, and then winning an Open at St Andrews maybe means that little bit extra.
“St Andrews will feel like the defence I never had, and then hopefully I’m defending at Royal Liverpool again in 2023.”
Fans of McIlroy can watch him in action at the Old Course again on Monday 11 July in the Celebration of Champions, ahead of Championship play beginning on Thursday 14 July. Click here to find out how best to follow The 150th Open.