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The Northern Irishman lifted the Claret Jug in 2014 at Royal Liverpool and went on to capture the PGA Championship weeks later but has since failed to add to his haul of titles in the game's marquee events.
Video: Things you didn't know about Rory McIlroy
However, he comes into the final men's Major of the year in red-hot form having won the RBC Canadian Open and gone close at the US Open. Back up to World No. 2, many are tipping him to challenge come Sunday evening, with Player among those expecting big things from "the most talented golfer in the world today."
Speaking to HSBC, Player, a nine-time Major champion, said: "I think that the lightbulb will be switched on and McIlroy will win The Open. St Andrews is a wide-open golf course and with his length, it's going to be an advantage.
"He has the best swing, he is a physical specimen - I admire him so much because of his work ethic - and he is a wonderful young man. He draws the ball, which is a big advantage at St Andrews and the greens are big, so there won't be much chipping - which I don't think is the best part of his game.
"He is my pick to win."
Those same sentiments were shared by many coming into the 2015 Open at St Andrews until an ankle injury forced McIlroy to miss his title defence. That said, he does have previous with the Old Lady, having experienced the famous layout at its easiest and fiercest in 2010.
Then 21, McIlroy blasted his way into an early lead with an irresistible opening 63, before being blown away on Friday as heavy winds wreaked havoc on his usually prodigious power game en route to an 80 that took him out of contention.
To his credit, McIlroy did as McIlroy does and recovered with rounds of 69 and 68 over the weekend to finish in a tie for third on eight-under, eight shy of Louis Oosthuizen's winning total.
With scoring expected to be low again, McIlroy can ill afford to have a round off if he wants to challenge for the game's oldest championship in the Home of Golf.
A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he went on to enjoy a spell freelancing for Stats Perform producing football reports, and then for RacingNews365 covering Formula 1. However, he couldn't turn down the opportunity to get back into the sport he grew up watching and playing and now covers a mixture of equipment, instruction and news for Golf Monthly's website and print title.
Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.
As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.
What's in Andy's bag?
Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)
3-wood: TaylorMade M1 (15°)
Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)
Irons: Callaway Apex Pro '19 (4-PW)
Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)
Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5
Ball: Titleist Pro V1
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