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”.
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.
Add to this that the R&A revealed earlier this year 70% of the tickets have been brought by fans living on the Emerald Isle and it’s little wonder that 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 if 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 things first though for McIlroy as he is back on European soil for a first time this year at this week’s Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open and is looking to win for a third occasion this year after two victories on the PGA Tour.