McIlroy looks to avoid second-round blues at British

Rory McIlroy walks off the practice green during a practice round prior to the start of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.
Rory McIlroy walks off the practice green during a practice round prior to the start of the 143rd Open Championship at Royal Liverpool. ( Getty Images )

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

HOYLAKE, England – There’s a good chance Rory McIlroy’s second competitive start at Royal Liverpool will go better than his debut.

McIlroy prepares for his sixth Open Championship as one of the favorites at 16/1 with British Bookmakers Ladbrokes. He’s ready to back those odds up.

“I feel as prepared as I ever have coming into an Open Championship,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy was one of the favorites when he journeyed to Royal Liverpool for the 2003 British Boys Championship even though he was just 14. He didn’t hang around for long – losing to England’s Graham Benson in the opening round.

McIlroy won’t have to worry about playing just one competitive round this year. His main concern is playing competitively in Round 2.

The 25-year-old might have won this tournament if not for his penchant for second-round meltdowns. McIlroy's second-round 80 at St. Andrews in 2010 cost him dearly. He finished third that year. It remains his best finish in this championship. His next best is 25th at Royal St. George’s in 2011, the year compatriot Darren Clarke won.

McIlroy suffered a similar second-round collapse last week at Royal Aberdeen, slumping to a 7-over 78 after taking the first-round lead with a 64.

“I may be putting too much pressure on myself going out on Fridays and trying to back up a score,” McIlroy said. “I have no problem shooting a low one on Thursday. There should be no reason I have any problem shooting a low one on Friday.

“I’ve just got it into my head. I need to go out and pretend like it’s a Thursday again. Hopefully this week I can start to turn that second round thing around and start shooting low scores.”

McIlroy already has one win under his belt this year – the BMW PGA Championship, the European Tour’s flagship event. He also won the Australian Open last year to halt a yearlong slump, a slump that included missing the cut in last year’s Open Championship at Muirfield.

Twelve months ago McIlroy pronounced himself “brain dead” after scores of 79 and 75. It seems obvious he won’t shoot those scores this week, but whether he can live up to the bookmaker’s odds remains to be seen.

“It seems like I’ve just been caught out this year by a bad stretch of holes every tournament,” he said. “If I can just eliminate that.

“I think it’s easier to eliminate some of the bad stuff than it is to try and find some of the good stuff, because the good stuff is in there, obviously, with some of the low scores I’m shooting. I just need to keep it a little tighter when things aren’t 100 percent on the golf course.”

It seems eons ago that McIlroy won a major championship, yet it’s less than two years since he won his second, the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. His first seems even longer ago. Is it really three years ago that McIlroy won the U.S. Open?

He has two legs of the Grand Slam, and would love to add a third this week.

“I grew up watching The Open on TV,” Rory said. “It’s special. It’s the only one played outside the United States. It’s played on links. It’s the oldest and probably has the richest history of all of them.

“If I was to win my third major here, it would be the third leg of a career Grand Slam. Not many golfers have done that either. So it would be very special. It would be very important.” readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.