McIlroy confident of home comforts at Royal Portrush

The Claret Jug at Royal Portrush

The Claret Jug at Royal Portrush

I haven't played it much over the last few years.

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.

"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".

"I had not seen my mum in three months", he explained. 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.

"It's amusing. I keep thinking back and in that stretch of golf there's two tough holes, the 14th (Calamity Corner), which is now the 16th, and then the old 16th, which is now the 18th".

"It might be a once in a lifetime opportunity, I don't know" he said.

"They are two pretty good factors and I just need to keep reminding myself of that I guess".

"As much as these weeks set you up for the week after, I'm playing with this event with two eyes firmly focused on the Scottish Open", added the 30-year-old, who has never won a tournament in Scotland. "And I think that if I continue to play with that freedom, and not be as careful or as tentative when I get myself in these pressure situations, it's going to be the best way for me to produce the golf that I produced in Canada".

The round in question was at Royal Portrush and can never be surpassed given the changes to the course made since, but it would have been a courageous soul to bet on anyone wiping McIlroy's name from the record books in any event. Feel the heat of getting in there on Sunday and trying to play some good golf. "It seems like into the greens, you can't play many shots on the ground". I honestly think this peaking for majors is a little bit of a myth.

"I'm in a very lucky position".

"You want to go out and play like that because I shouldn't have a care in the world". I think if I do that, that's the best way to prepare for next week.

"I remember I birdied both of those and I'd probably pay a lot of money for two birdies on those holes in a few days' time". I'd rather lose playing that way than lose playing conservatively and not really giving myself a chance. So it deserves to stand-alone and not just be this tournament that's attached on to the week after.

Follow the Open Golf Championshop from Royal Portrush with our live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News Now App from 18-21 July.

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