McIlroy eyes Open win on home soil to end major drought

Woods had a chance to check out the greens alongside Patrick Reed

Woods had a chance to check out the greens alongside Patrick Reed

As the Open arrives in Northern Ireland, BBC News NI brings you news and views from Royal Portrush.

He tied for sixth place at the 2018 British Open.

The four-time major victor will be walking around Royal Portrush, a course new to most of the players in the field, with a native expert helping him negotiate the sharp elevation changes of the century-old links course on the northern coast of Northern Ireland.

Already the man to beat, Koepka has another weapon in his armoury this week as his caddie Ricky Elliott is a Portrush native and grew up playing the course. He tied for 21st at the 2019 U.S. Open.

That was about as clear as picking who stands the best chance at Royal Portrush.

Woods said "I texted Brooksy and I said, 'mind if I tag along and play a practice round?" He was joking on the phone.

"I just want to enjoy it as much as possible", he said. "That golf course puts so much stress on the system ..."

"I don't know what I'll do in the future", he said about his eating habits. Tiger had laid back over the first three days.

Elliott, and Koepka, are probably best placed to succeed considering the golfer's form in majors this year, with two runners-up spots to add to his PGA win.

The Open is being held at Portrush for the second time - 68 years after the only other occasion the Northern Ireland venue hosted the major.

Woods revealed in the build-up to the Open he has been getting up at 1 a.m. back home in Florida to acclimatize for coming over to Portrush. The whole reason I show up is to win. I was reading the leaderboard all the time trying to figure out what the number is going to be, who is on what hole. "It's incredible. But at the same time, it's been quite disappointing, you know?"

He also said his champion status has affected his practice schedule and that a gut-wrenching demise at the Masters in April, when he twice found the water in a joint-fifth finish, had left him tired.

McIlroy tends to be in the mix come the weekend at the Open, with top-five finishes in each of his last four appearances, including his solitary win in 2014. To be so consistent, so solid.

Playing in front of home crowds for the first time since the Irish Open at Portstewart two years ago, Rory McIlroy looked like he was loving every minute of it.

"Carnoustie last year I didn't envisage hitting that many drivers and then I got there the week of the tournament", McIlroy told Reuters of last year's British Open in an interview organized by NBC's Golf Channel. Watch out, Brooks Koepka. It's the smart play because he is one of the most brilliant on-course athletes of all time.

He played the Scottish Open last week, finishing in the middle of the pack, and stayed away from Royal Portrush on Monday.

"I feel like I'm in a good spot and that's all that matters to me". Hordes of kids clamouring by the putting surface to try and get him to ink his signature onto a hat or a ball or a flag. "How many majors I want to win, how many wins, my own accomplishments".

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