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Rory McIlroy believes he has enjoyed the ideal preparation as he bids to end his long major drought in the 151st Open Championship.
McIlroy travelled to Hoylake on Sunday afternoon after winning the Scottish Open in brilliant fashion, the 34-year-old defying strong winds to birdie the final two holes and edge out home favourite Robert MacIntyre by a shot.
Since then the world number two has been reacquainting himself with Royal Liverpool, the venue where he lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 just a month before claiming the last of his four majors to date in the US PGA Championship.
For the second major in succession McIlroy cancelled a planned formal press conference, but he did give short interviews to TV and radio outlets.
“I could not ask for better preparation,” he told BBC Sport NI. “The way I played the last two holes (in Scotland) was an amazing finish and a perfect way to come into this week.
“I’ve had a great nine years and won a lot of tournaments but the big four have eluded me. Hopefully this week that’s something I can change.
“It’s nice to be back here. It’s not like I think about it all that often so it’s nice to come back and re-familiarise myself with the course. It’s nice to come back to a major venue you’ve won on, but it also makes you feel a bit old.”
McIlroy has recorded 19 top 10s in the 34 majors played since his last victory, with his best chances of a win coming in last year’s Open and June’s US Open.
At St Andrews McIlroy held a two-shot lead at the turn in the final round before being overhauled by an inspired Cameron Smith, while he finished a shot behind Wyndham Clark at Los Angeles Country Club following a final round containing one birdie, one bogey and 16 pars.
“It’s just golf,” he told Sky Sports News. “At the end of the day I have to go out there and try to shoot the best score I can for four days in a row and hope that is one shot better than everyone else.
It’s a very strategic golf course, which I like
Rory McIlroy on Royal Liverpool
“I’m just trying to keep it as simple as possible, forget all the noise, forget everything else and just go out and enjoy myself more than anything else.
“The course is great. It’s in superb condition. It’s basically how I remember it. It’s a very strategic golf course off the tee. It’s very, very well bunkered and I think the biggest challenge of this golf course is avoiding those pot bunkers off the tee.
“It’s a very strategic golf course, which I like. You really have to think your way around it and whether you challenge the bunkers or not or lay back.”
McIlroy will partner Ryder Cup team-mates Jon Rahm and Justin Rose in the first two rounds, teeing off just before 3pm on Thursday.