Golf

Rory McIlroy inspired by Phil Mickelson

McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together for Thursday and Friday at last year's Open  (©GettyImages)
McIlroy and Mickelson were paired together for Thursday and Friday at last year's Open (©GettyImages).

Rory McIlroy has admitted Phil Mickelson's win at Muirfield last year is the reason he has chosen to make his first appearance since 2009 at the Scottish Open this week. 

The Northern Irishman often chooses to rest the week before a major championship.

However, having witnessed the benefits of playing competitive links golf in the build-up to the Open first hand through last year's opening rounds with eventual winner Mickelson in Scotland, the 24 year old will tee it up at Royal Aberdeen hoping to increase his chances of adding to his two major titles.

"I'm excited to play some competitive links golf this week," he told Sky Sports. "I think it [Mickelson's win] influenced a lot of people, it definitely influenced me. I played with Phil the first two days at Muirfield, and you could see his links game was very sharp. 

"Coming off the win the week before and everything, I think it put it in a lot guys heads. And like I said, I think the Scottish Open heading back to a proper links course is why the strength of the field is where it is right now."

The former US Open and US PGA champion has a modest record at the season's third major. His best finish - tied-third - came in 2010 at St Andrews after a dazzling opening-day 63 was followed by an 80 on the Friday, while he missed the cut last year at Muirfield in a forgettable season. 

But his decision to head to Royal Aberdeen is a welcome one, and displays a clear shift in attitude from 2011 when the Ulsterman said he would not change his style to taste Open championship success. 

That was said in the immediate aftermath of his maiden major title, won at a Congressional playing far different from that of any links course this side of the Atlantic. 

Clearly, though, with a wiser head on his shoulders nowadays following a barren 2013, this year's BMW PGA champion would desperately love to add a Claret Jug to his trophy cabinet. 

"The good golf is there, it really is there," he added. "I think just limiting the mistakes is the big thing for me. 

"If I can just keep the runs of holes, where I'm not quite on my game, off my card and just keep it together, that's all I need to do."

Despite failing to add to his major haul since his 2012 win at Kiawah Island, as well as suffering a lack of form throughout 2013 that saw him remain winless on the PGA Tour, McIlroy will be one of the bookies' favourites at both this week's Scottish Open and next week's big one, the Open, that will also see Tiger Woods make his first major appearance of the year. 

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Topics:
PGA Tour
Golf
The Open
Rory McIlroy
European Tour
Tiger Woods
Phil Mickleson

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