Rory McIlroy sees Royal Portrush as 'once in a lifetime' opportunity

Rory McIlroy sees Royal Portrush as 'once in a lifetime' opportunity

Rory McIlroy is confident that Royal Portrush will be a "spectacular" venue for the Open and he considers next week as a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to win a major on home soil.

The four-time major victor, who shot a course-record 61 there at the age of 16, will be the home favourite at the links in Northern Ireland, which he says has improved significantly since his younger days.

McDowell and McIlroy have been partly responsible for the Open returning to Northern Ireland after such a long gap, their major championship victories - plus those of Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington - increasing the pressure on the R&A to overcome any commercial or logistical challenges.

"I expected it to feel different than it did".

"I made that mistake before at some tournaments and it just hasn't quite worked out for me".

"Yes, the stands are up and it looks fantastic, but it's still the same golf course". "That's one of the things we do, I want to go and storm the castle".

"That was probably the first time that I realised that we had something pretty special on our hands from the point of view of Irish golf and Northern Irish golf".

"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". "Tiger doesn't sleep already, and I know he's was on a family trip and I think it was Thailand, so he was probably already jet-lagged". It was great to see it.

"It might be another 61 years until Portrush gets The Open, so go out and enjoy it. Smell the roses".

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McIlroy will play alongside American Rickie Fowler and home favourite Robert MacIntyre at North Berwick's Renaissance Club on Thursday.

He said: "As much as the weeks before set you up for the week after, I'm playing with this event with two eyes firmly focused on the Scottish Open". "It seems like into the greens, you can't play many shots on the ground".

"One of the phrases that I've used recently is 'give myself permission.' I want to give myself permission to be free".

"It's the same golf course I've grown up playing my whole life, and it's the same tournament that I haven't finished outside the top five for the last few years".

"I think doing that is the best way to prepare for next week". Feel the heat of getting in there on Sunday and trying to play some good golf.

"I'm sure they are in not going to share that much information, but they are at least nice enough people where they are going to help somewhat". "It seems like if it gets blowing out here, it's going to be very, very hard: the nine holes I played yesterday, they weren't very short. It's a big event".

"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 think most tournaments deserve to stand on their own two feet and have some stature, and The Scottish Open is one of these events on the European Tour".

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