McIlroy: Open’s return to Northern Ireland ‘bigger than me’

Despite competing on home soil in Northern Ireland, Rory McIlroy said there’s no added pressure to win this week’s Open Championship at Royal Portrush.

Jul 17, 2019; Portrush, County Antrim, IRL; Rory McIlroy tees off at the sixth hole during a practice round of The Open Championship golf tournament at Royal Portrush Golf Club – Dunluce Course. Mandatory Credit: Ian Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

“I’m just treating this like any other Open Championship,” he said Wednesday, per SkySports.com. “I’ve played well here for the last few years, and I’ve played well on this golf course. So I’ve just got to go out and hit the shots and stay in the present. If I just keep putting one foot in front of the other, hopefully by Sunday night, that will be good enough.”

As the 30-year-old betting favorite prepared to try to snap his five-year major drought, he said the return of the tournament to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 is “bigger than me.”

“This is a wonderful thing for this country and golf in general, and to be quite a big part of it is an honor and a privilege,” McIlroy said. “And I want to keep reminding myself of that, that this is bigger than me, right? This is bigger than me.

“If you can look at the bigger picture and you can see that, it sort of takes a little bit of the pressure off. I still want to play well and concentrate and do all the right things, but at the same time just having that perspective might just make me relax a little bit more.

“So I think no matter what happens this week, if I win or whoever else wins, having The Open back in this country is a massive thing for golf. And I think as well it will be a massive thing for the country.”

McIlroy set the course record at Royal Portrush with a 61 when he was only 16 years old.

McIlroy won his fourth and most recent major at the 2014 PGA Championship, the same year he won his only Open title at Royal Liverpool.

The world No. 3 begins his quest for the Claret Jug on Thursday, when he is paired with U.S. Open winner Gary Woodland and England’s Paul Casey.

—Field Level Media

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