Rory McIlroy has not enjoyed a major victory since August 2014. In this historic edition of the British Open in St Andrews, he is getting closer to the dream he has cherished since he was a child.
Win the Claret Jug on hallowed ground, the legendary Old Course where sports legends Old Tom Morris, Bobby Jones, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have passed, to name a few.
Joining the famous club of golfers who have won the Claret Jug at St Andrews is the hallmark of excellence, according to Jones and Nicklaus.
As the final round approaches, the 33-year-old Northern Irishman takes charge of the Open alongside young Norwegian Viktor Hovland.
If the golf gods willed it on Sunday, an eight-year desert trek would end. In July 2014, he lifted the Claret Jug as he led the Open from start to finish at Hoylake. A month later, he wore the massive Wanamaker Trophy at the PGA Championship of America in Valhalla.
follow the recipe
Since then, he has often bitten the dust at Grand Slam tournaments. Just look at his performances at Augusta, the US Open and his three consecutive top 5 finishes at the Open between 2016 and 2018. This season, he too has excelled at all three major championships without tasting victory.
“This time I put myself in a great position after 54 holes. I have won enough golf tournaments in my career to know what I need to achieve in the final round, recalled the winner of 30 professional tournaments around the world, including four major championships.
“I have to continue applying the strategy that took me to the top of the table. This is the recipe. It must be applied for the final round. I don’t have to focus on the result, the number two in the world repeated.
“I have to be disciplined. I try to play for percentages of success, she explained. You have to know how to play intelligently according to the position of the flags knowing how to position yourself about ten meters away, because par is excellent in most holes. You have to know how to attack at the right times and in the right places.
“That will continue to be my strategy in the final round.”
The one with two wins this season, including the Canadian Open in June, doesn’t plan to break out of his little bubble, because it allows him to stay focused.
the beloved child
He could very well be distracted by all the attention on him. At all four corners of the Old Course, he is the wunderkind of the spectators and is widely favored to lift the British pitcher on the forecourt of the Royal and Ancient tonight.
“I learned that staying in my little cocoon allowed me to play better. If I go back to the 2011 Masters Tournament, I was out of my bubble and out of my strategy. I had deviated from the work that I had done in the first three rounds. He had learned a hard lesson. It was a very hard pill to swallow.”
Remember, that year at Augusta, Rory lost control in the final round. Leader by four shots after 54 holes, the disaster had come for a final round of 80 (+8), paving the way for a consecration of Charl Schwartzel. Meanwhile, Rory had dropped to 15th place. The green jacket is still and always missing from his collection.
However, a Claret Jug from St Andrews would fulfill your wildest dreams. He grew up in Northern Ireland and the Open has always meant excellence in European golf. Since the beginning of the week he has been repeating that he wants to savor victory in this course in a historic edition. In full possession of the media from him, McIlroy delivers an inspired game. A consecration in front of the deserters who joined the new and controversial LIV Golf series would also be the icing on the cake.
Faced with the challenges facing his sport, he has made it almost a personal affair since landing at St Andrews.
The work is not finished. Nothing is purchased yet. At the controls he will meet his playmate Viktor Hovland in the final round on Saturday. The 24-year-old star is also looking to achieve a grand feat, as no golfer from Norway, a nation known for his excellence in winter sports, has ever tasted a Grand Slam title.
“I can trust my experience. You have to deserve the victory. I’ve done it throughout my career.”
We’ll soon find out if his time in St Andrews has finally come.