Four-time Major winning Rory McIlroy declared that contesting next week’s 148th Open Championship at Royal Portrush will be a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity”, but he remains firmly focussed on the job at hand this week in Scotland.
McIlroy will head to the final major of the year an overwhelming crowd favourite given his close affection with the host course where in 2005, then as a 16-year old amateur, he shot a round of 61 in the North of Ireland Championship.
With the R&A revealing earlier this year that 70% of the tickets have been brought by fans living on the Emerald Isle, it’s little wonder the now 30-year old McIlroy reckons he’s got a great chance of winning a second Claret Jug.
“It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I don’t know,” he told Sky Sports News.
“I’m sort of treating it like a once in a lifetime opportunity but I still have to enjoy it. I can’t put so much pressure on myself. I’ve made that mistake before at tournaments and it hasn’t quite worked out for me.”
“I want to enjoy the experience and take it in as well, not have my blinkers on the whole time, look to the right of me, look to the left of me, see all these fans, see all these people who have come out to support me and hopefully I’m able to play some good golf that I have been doing all year and give myself a chance.”
“Sometimes in Irish Opens that support has been a bit of burden on me but I feel like I have learned to use that energy in the right way and that’s what I’ll need to do next week.”
First thing’s first though for McIlroy as he tees-up in this week’s Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open and for a first time this year on European soil, looking to win for a third occasion this year after two victories on the PGA Tour.
“I’m here fully focused on this event. I think it’s a little disrespectful when people come in and they are treating it as a warm-up.
“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. It’s a big event, a lot of prize money, a lot of points, it deserves to stand alone and not just be this tournament that’s attached on to the week after.
“I’m fully focused on getting out there and playing well this week and trying to get myself in the mix.
“I’m playing this event with two eyes firmly focused on the Scottish Open. I want to get myself into contention and have a chance to win a golf tournament.
“I think if I do that, that’s the best way to prepare for next week. You know, get yourself into contention, feel the heat of getting in there on Sunday and trying to play some good golf.”
McIlroy tees up alongside Robert Macintyre and Rickie Fowler on Thursday afternoon at 13.40.