Rory McIlroy insists he’s under no pressure to capture his first event of the season in what will be his last tournament of his year at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland.
The event, being staged over three courses – Kingsbarns Links, Carnoustie and the famed Old Course at St Andrews – is McIlroy’s last opportunity to win what would be a 14th European Tour title and a long overdue 23rd pro career title in an injury dogged season.
The current World No. 6, who last tasted success in capturing the 2016 Tour Championship on the PGA Tour also is seeking to keep alive a proud record of having won at least one tournament a year since 2009.
McIlroy arrived in Scotland buoyed by having produced his best result since a similar second in his first event of the New Year by being runner-up in last week’s British Masters.
“No, I don’t think I am under any pressure as I had a great chance — well, I gave myself a decent chance last week,” he said.
“So, it’s just good to know that there’s good stuff in there. At the end of the day, the result, it isn’t just dependent on me.”
“I could play very well and shoot 20-under par this week and someone could shoot 22-under par; I could walk away from the week feeling very happy and feeling like I played well.”
“Sometimes your best isn’t quite good enough to get the win. A bit like last week. If someone had said to me you’re going to shoot 17-under par this week, I would have bitten their hand off on Thursday morning thinking that’s going to get the job done, and it didn’t quite get there.”
“So, I’m not under pressure to win. The result, if you play well and things go your way, that takes care of itself. But it would just be nice to string a few more good rounds together and put in a about performance and that would be a nice way to end the year.”
McIlroy is also acutely aware, that despite 22 victories around the globe, he is yet to win in the Home of Golf nation, having come closest in being tied second when he last contested the Alfred Dunhill Links in 2014.
McIlory was also third in the 2007 Alfred Dunhill Links, in only his second event as a pro, and he also shared third place in the 2010 Open Championship also at St Andrews where had begun with a then Major Championship equalling low of 63.
However, it has been a 2017 season spoilt by injury with McIlroy, who got married this year, clearly looking forward to taking a lengthy break to mid-January 2018 to allow his rib injury to fully heal.
“In a golfing sense, it is a year I am looking forward to turning my back on,” he admitted.
“It has not been the year that I wanted but a lot of great things have happened to me off the golf course, and 2017 will always be a year I remember because of that.”
“It hasn’t been the year I wanted in terms of my career, but you’re going to have years that just don’t quite go your way. There’s some things that are out of your control. I’ve tried my best to play well and persevere and play through an injury and it just hasn’t quite happened for me.”
“This year has just not been anywhere near as bad as the year I had in 2013, and I bounced back from that year pretty well the year after. Hopefully I can do the same next year I guess”.
McIlroy will begin his quest for the gleaming trophy at St Andrews partnering South African Branden Grace.