McIlroy hoping time away doesn't take eyes off prize

Updated: 09 July 2011 10:52 IST

Rory McIlroy is hoping that three weeks away from the golf course don't leave him feeling too ring rusty as he looks to follow up his stunning US Open triumph with victory in next week's British Open at Royal St George's.

McIlroy hoping time away doesn't take eyes off prize

Paris:

Rory McIlroy is hoping that three weeks away from the golf course don't leave him feeling too ring rusty as he looks to follow up his stunning US Open triumph with victory in next week's British Open at Royal St George's.


McIlroy's performance at Congressional will go down in history after the young Northern Irishman recorded the lowest ever score in a US Open, with his 16 under par total beating the previous best score by four.

That success was an emphatic and immediate response to those who doubted his bottle following his spectacular collapse at the Masters at Augusta in April, when McIlroy led by four going into the final day only to shoot an eighty and finish the weekend tied for fifteenth.

Now home fans arriving in the Kent town of Sandwich for the 140th Open are looking forward to the prospect of seeing their new hero become the first British player to raise the claret jug since Paul Lawrie's surprise triumph at Carnoustie in 1999.

However, doubts have been raised on the tour as to whether McIlroy's preparations for Royal St Georges will stand him in sufficiently good stead to genuinely compete for the greatest prize in the game.

Since Congressional, the 22 year-old has taken a break from the fairways, and has instead been spotted enjoying the tennis at Wimbledon. He was also in Hamburg to see Wladimir Klitschko beat David Haye in their boxing world heavyweight showdown.

McIlroy is again missing from the field at this week's Scottish Open at Castle Stuart, and last year's Ryder Cup-winning captain Colin Montgomerie is not convinced that such a build-up will aid his chances of glory.

"I can understand two out of three, but I would like to have seen him play a competitive tournament between the two majors," said Montgomerie, who himself has still to record a major victory.

"He's so natural I don't think there are any fears about his game, but it's the locker room - there are going to be so many people wanting to congratulate him.

"Whether it was the French or the Scottish Open he could have got that out of his system and out of the way so he can start the Open afresh.

"Now he's got that ahead of him and on the first tee I think he will be mentally tired - but who am I to say?"

Montgomerie did add that he still believed McIlroy would be a contender at Royal St George's, but Phil Mickelson - who has won four majors in his career but has never triumphed at the Open - raised eyebrows when he spoke of his belief that "next week's Open winner will be in the field at Castle Stuart."

Mickelson, then, appears to be of the opinion that McIlroy will not be in the running for the Open, but Padraig Harrington reckons its not so clear cut.

"I don't think it's black and white," he said. "There's pros and cons to it. He's very familiar with links golf, and he will play quite a bit of links golf in those three weeks at home.

"I would have terrible problems if I didn't play the week before, I would get totally distracted. He doesn't have an issue with that."

Twelve months ago, McIlroy's compatriot Graeme McDowell arrived in St Andrews basking in the glory of his own remarkable US Open triumph at Pebble Beach. He lasted all weekend, but was never in contention at the top of the leaderboard and finished tied 23th.

That should serve as an example of how big McIlroy's task will be this time, as he bids to become the first player to win the US and British Opens in the same year since Tiger Woods in 2000.

However, few in the game doubt that the sport's latest superstar has what it takes to follow in Tiger's footsteps, even after his extended break from action.



Topics : Golf Rory McIlroy
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