Golf

Rory McIlroy primed for first Open Championship

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Rory McIlroy believes his game is in prime condition ahead of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, and is looking forward to putting together four good rounds at the coveted Major, something frustratingly he has yet to achieve in six attempts.

Former world number one, McIlroy, told the world's media ahead of the third Major of the year, that he feels this week he can end six years of Open frustration and add to his 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship.

Poor showing

The Ulsterman's best finish at one of the most sought after Majors, was tied third at St. Andrews in 2010, and by his own admission, on the other five occasions he has taken part at the Open, his game was well below the usual high standards we have become accustomed to seeing.

"The Open Championship is a tournament that's very important to me. And my record in it hasn't been as good as I'd like. I'd love to improve on that," he said at Hoylake on Tuesday just before setting off to play 18 holes of practice.

"It would be very special. I remember growing up watching The Open on TV and watching (Nick) Faldo win.

"Watching even like Darren (Clarke) having a chance at Troon, I guess. Watching a lot of the Opens growing up, and even going to a couple of them to watch when I was a kid, it's special.

"It's the only one played outside of the States, as well. And it's played on links. It's the oldest and probably has the richest history of all of them.

"It would be great to put the name on the Claret Jug one day. If I was to win my third Major here, it would be the third leg of a career Grand Slam, as well. Not many golfers have done that, either.

"So it would be special. It would be very important. Hopefully by the time I hang up my boots, I'd love to be able to get my name on that trophy."

Signs of improvement

McIlroy endured a tough 2013, however the signs have been more positive this year despite his high profile separation from fiancé and former tennis world number one Carolina Wozniacki.

He has yet to win on the PGA Tour this season, however he did lift the BMW Championship at Wentworth for a second time a few months back.

Last week at the Scottish Open on Royal Aberdeen, McIlroy took apart the Links course with a course record 64 before capitulating with a second round 78, a part of his game that is clearly a frustration at present.

"That's one that I'd like to try to stop this week," he said.

"I think it is more I just got it into my head. And I may be putting a bit too much pressure on myself, going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score.

"I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday, there should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday.

"I think I just got into my head. It's something that I need to go out and pretend like it's a Thursday again.

"Just play. Just play and play a few solid holes and get your round underway that way.

"So hopefully this week I can start to turn that second-round thing around and start shooting some better scores."

Rose gunning for three in a row

Justin Rose starts the Open as favourite following his recent form which has seen him arrive at Royal Liverpool gunning for a third consecutive win.

It took Rose almost 13 months to get back on the winning trail following his first Major win last year at the US Open, however the world number three is the one to beat this week.

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Rose's preparation couldn't have gone any better as he fired a closing six-under, 65 at Royal Aberdeen last week to clinch the Scottish Open by two shots. 

The win came off the back of a thrilling play-off victory a week earlier at the Quicken Loans National at the Congressional on the other side of the Atlantic, the first time Rose has won back to back tournaments.

Woods returns to scene of last win

Tiger Woods returns to the scene of the last of his Open Championship wins in 2006, however under completely different circumstances.

The 14-times Major winner has played just two competitive rounds of golf in four months following back surgery and could be in for a tough weekend, or so one would think.

Five times Open Championship winner and Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson, has warned the field that Woods must not be written off, however the player himself admitted he is focused on a good performance to secure his ticket on the plane for the Ryder Cup in September. 

Royal Liverpool getting ready

Scott fighting to hold onto top spot

World number one Adam Scott, will not want to remember handing over the 2012 Open Championship to Ernie Els, but then the Australian has since won his first Major less than a year later, when he donned the Green Jacket at the 2013 US Masters.

Scott will be aware that potentially four players could overhaul him at the top of the rankings this week at Royal Liverpool.

Henrik Stenson would have the easiest path to No. 1. The Swede needs to win the claret jug and have Scott finish outside the top 3, and Stenson can also claim the top spot with a solo second-place finish if Scott finishes outside the top 18.

Justin Rose would seal his path at the the top with a win and Scott finishing outside of the top six.

Bubba Watson could overhaul Scott if he wins the Open Championship and the Aussie finishes outside of the top 15.

And finally, compatriot Jason Day will displace his friend at the top if he registers his first Major victory and Scott ends up 22 or worse.

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Topics:
Adam Scott
Golf
Rory McIlroy
Bubba Watson
Tiger Woods
Justin Rose

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