• McIlroy heads up strong British showing

    McIlroy heads up strong British showing
    TROON, SCOTLAND - JULY 13: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland reacts during previews to the 145th Open Championship at Royal Troon on July 13, 2016 in Troon, Scotland. (Photo by Jan Kruger/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

    Rory McIlroy missed his title defence at The Open Championship last year due to an ankle injury. This week at Royal Troon he’ll get the chance to once again compete at the oldest major.

    ‘It’s the start of a new chapter for me in the The Open Championship,’ said the Northern Irishman. ‘I’m determined not to miss any more, but I don’t feel like I’m defending. Hopefully by the end of the week I can put my hands on that Claret Jug for a second time.’

    The 27-year-old heads up a British charge that includes Justin Rose and Danny Willett, all hungry for Open Championship success at Royal Troon, where Americans have won the last six tournaments.

    ‘I’ve had two good looks at the golf course and feel like I know what I’m doing around here,’ said McIlroy. ‘You have to keep it out of the bunkers, but once it’s in play you have a chance to make some birdies.’

    Rose arrived at the Scottish links a week early to prepare.

    ‘I’m rounding into form and my thoughts processes are solidifying in my mind,’ he said. ‘I feel like I have a pretty clear handle on all of it, so the rest is about going out and doing it.’

    ‘Right now it’s a calmness from being prepared and ready. I’ve seen the course in both winds, so I’m pretty excited,’ he added.

    Reigning Masters champ Danny Willett was also prepared for a major showdown. He recently enjoyed some downtime watching tennis at Wimbledon and Formula One at Silverstone.

    The 28-year-old heads into the week rested and ready to contend for a second major title.

    ‘It’s everyone’s dream to win a major. Being British, this is one that we all want to get our hands on. You’ve not got to do anything different. The reason you’re in that position is because you’re a very good player. You keep doing what you can do and hopefully on a Sunday afternoon it’s good enough,’ he said.

    The world number nine played with 2015 Open Champion Zach Johnson in the final pairing at St. Andrews last year. He learnt plenty about how to win on the big stage.

    ‘Whenever you play with someone and see them win, then you see what they did and can compare yourself,’ said Willett. ‘I played with Zach in the last few rounds last year and he stayed incredibly patient all day and took his chances when they came.’

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