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McIlroy 'fully focused' on Scottish Open ahead of The Open

McIlroy 'fully focused' on Scottish Open ahead of The Open

"I look at Brooks and you see what he does in these majors and you think, wow, if he produced this sort of stuff every week, it would be very tough to compete", said Rory.

McIlroy set the course record at Portrush with a 61 in the North of Ireland Championship as a 16-year-old, although the layout has since been changed, with the previous 17th and 18th holes removed and two new ones built into the middle of the round.

Irishman Shane Lowry and Englishman Matt Wallace will attract support, but we sense their best golf might have already come earlier in the year.

McDowell and McIlroy have been partly responsible for the Open returning to Northern Ireland after such a long gap, their major championship victories - plus those of Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington - increasing the pressure on the R&A to overcome any commercial or logistical challenges. That, coupled with the fact he's not finished outside the top five in his last four appearances in the event, is making him feel quietly confident about ending a five-year drought in the majors just over an hour's drive from his family home in Holywood.

Arriving at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open in final preparation for what one assumes will be pivotal week in his career - the Open in his homeland for the first time in 60 years - McIlroy was feeling reassured from a trip to the venue that is still as he remembered, with his comfort level on a course where he grew up the same as ever.

"I was saying to someone yesterday, I expected it to feel different than it did", he said.

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"I want to get myself in contention and have a chance to win the golf tournament".

"I had not seen my mum in three months and I made arrangements to go to dinner with them and I said, can we have it about 8.00 because I don't know how much time I'm going to have to spend at Portrush. The more I can enjoy that and roll with it and play with that freedom, the better I think I can do".

"The last 10 years have been a dream and it's a matter of going out there and I think one of the big things for me next week is to enjoy the experience". That's how I play my best golf.

"It's not as if I want to just come here and go through the motions and get myself ready". When I got on the first tee, everything sort of started coming back to me: On the second tee, I aim it at the brown house, the fourth...everything started to come back.

Despite an understandable barrage of Royal Portrush questions in his pre-tournament press conference, McIlroy was at pains to stress his full focus is on this week's Scottish Open at The Renaissance Club. "It's not as if I'm trying to replicate shots or different things here that I might be doing in Portrush. So if I can have that familiar feeling and that leads to certainty in my game and certainty in what I'm trying to do next week, that's a good thing". So it deserves to stand-alone and not just be this tournament that's attached on to the week after.

"I'm here fully focused on this event. It's a big event".


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