Rory McIlroy is relishing the title defense he has never had at next week’s Open Championship at St Andrews.
McIlroy led from start to finish to win the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool, but was prevented from attempting to retain the Claret Jug on the Old Course the following year after suffering an ankle injury while playing football.
It means it’s been 12 years since the world number two last played an Open at St Andrews, when he started with a brilliant 63, slumped to a second-round 80 in terrible weather and crashed. is beaten to finish tied for third place.
Speaking to TheOpen.com, the four-time major winner admits he was looking forward to getting back and competing at The Open in the birthplace of golf.
“I can’t walk into The Open approaching it like I have unfinished business on this golf course,”
“You know, I feel like there’s enough pressure on me anyway without putting more on myself.
“But this is the one I’ve been looking forward to for a very, very long time – 12 years. I just want to make sure I’m in the best shape possible to go there.
McIlroy says this year he has produced some of his best golf in a long time, having been in contention at all three previous majors.
“I’m playing well, I’m playing one of the best golf courses I’ve played in a long time. I’ve played well in the majors this year without winning, but I’ve really fought in all of them. So that’s a good opportunity.”
McIlroy notched a final 64 to finish second to Scottie Scheffler at the Masters and finished eighth at the US PGA and fifth at the US Open, the latter performance coming a week after winning the Canadian Open.
McIlroy has been out of the major winner’s circle since 2014, but on a course he knows well, there may be a chance McIlroy will end the 150th Open Championship drought.
“I may have something to prove to myself and others, but the way I play, I feel like I’m going there with the same luck I’ve had at an Open since I remember.”
“Even the Open that I won in 2014 seems that far away now, so I would love to get my hands on another Claret Jug.”
“Everyone is talking about winning an Open Championship, then maybe winning an Open at St Andrews means a little something extra.”
“St Andrews will be like the defense I’ve never had, and I hope I defend again at Royal Liverpool in 2023.”
The 150th Open Championship begins Thursday in St. Andrews.