The four-time Major winner will have the weight of Ireland on his shoulders this week in search of a second Claret Jug
McIlroy Will Either Be Inspired Or Destroyed At Portrush
The four-time Major champion has planned his entire year around this week which he has previously said is the biggest of his career.
McIlroy has finished inside the top five in his last four Open appearances and comes into this week on excellent form with two wins and nine top 10s from 14 events so far in 2019.
Will he rise to the occasion, or will the pressure get to him?
“It’s either a problem or inspiration for them,” Golf Monthly’s Editor-at-large Bill Elliott said of all the Irishman in the field this week on Golf Monthly’s Open Preview podcast.
“I’ve just walked around this little town a bit and Rory’s picture is in every other shop window.
“Rory said it might have been a bit of kidology on his part that his focus for the only time this year was not on trying to win the Masters, it was on trying to win this Open in Northern Ireland.
“Now that is either going to inspire him and the support he is going to receive is going to inspire him, or it is going to destroy his chances.
“There’s probably nothing in between.”
Listen to this week’s Open preview podcast –
Whilst Bill Elliott is unsure of how Rory will perform in this career-defining week, he believes that a couple of others from the island of Ireland will go well at Portrush.
“It’s the same for the others and the guy I think who could surprise us all and maybe even win it is Padraig Harrington who I think still retains the game to do it.
“He’s obviously won two Opens so we know he can play links courses.
“And Graeme McDowell. People underestimate Graeme.
“It seems silly to say people underestimate somebody who has won the US Open but they continue to underestimate Graeme and not just for the fact that in the last few years he has gone down the world rankings but he has showed that in the way he qualified for this Open almost at the very last minute, or at least five minutes away from the last minute, that he still has the passion, the belief and the game to do it.
“He may have one last great hurrah in it and again he may be lifted by the local people.
“The most significant Irishman in this Open might be Brooks Koepka’s caddie.”
For all the latest golf news, check the Golf Monthly website and follow our social media channels