IRVINE, Scotland (AP) — Rory McIlroy is recreating his British Open build-up from 2014 in an attempt to rediscover some form for another shot at the claret jug at Royal Birkdale next week.
In the week prior to winning at Hoylake three years ago, McIlroy took the ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland, played the Scottish Open at Royal Aberdeen and stumbled on a successful formula with his putting to take to the British Open.
Fast forward to this summer and the four-time major champion is looking to get out of a rut by playing the Scottish Open — the leading warmup event for the British Open — for the first time since 2014. Again, he took the ferry across to Scotland and he has also been working on simplifying his putting routine, after getting “bogged down in technical thoughts.”
“The Open Championship is eight days away … I need to see good signs in my golf game going in there to have a bit of confidence,” the No. 4-ranked McIlroy said Wednesday at Dundonald Links, a course in west Scotland that is hosting the Scottish Open for the first time.
McIlroy had two separate periods out this year with a rib injury before missing the cut at two of his last three events — the U.S. Open at Erin Hills last month and then at last week’s Irish Open when he said his short game was not sharp enough.
By continuing to insist his best form is “close” — he said it again Wednesday — McIlroy acknowledged that he is starting to sound like a “broken record.”
“I’m excited about my game. I feel like I’m doing a lot of good things. And again, it’s just putting it all together, not just for one day but for four days; and not just for four days, to do it week-in and week-out,” said the Northern Irishman, who has just started a run of seven events potentially in an eight-week stretch.
“I’ve gone through little periods like this in the past, and I’ve hit form and I’ve been able to run with it and sort of ride on the crest of a wave for a few months. I feel like that’s not too far away.”
Eight of the world’s top 23 have chosen to play competitive golf at the Scottish Open rather than practice in the week leading up to Royal Birkdale.
Adam Scott is playing the event for the first time since 2009, while Rickie Fowler — the 2015 Scottish Open champion — is back after missing last year because of the busy summer schedule arising from golf being played at the Olympics.
Fowler started the Sunday of the Masters and the U.S. Open in contention this year, only to falter in the final round, and he feels like he’ll be in good shape to challenge for the British Open with a week’s preparation in Scotland.
“Links golf is probably my favorite,” No. 10-ranked Fowler said.
“I enjoy playing the week before the majors just to get myself ready to go, check off some boxes. That way there’s less prep the week of a major. The Scottish Open has been great for me going into the Open.”