Tommy Fleetwood carried to lead of ‘home’ Open by partisan support
The last time Royal Liverpool Golf Club hosted the Open was the last time Rory McIlroy won, back in 2014.
The Northern-Irishman has endured a major drought since then, winning the PGA Championship the following month, but missing out since then.
He’s come close in the last couple of years, with runners-up finishes in last year’s Masters and the US Open in Los Angeles just last month. And he now comes into the fourth and final major of the year off the back of winning last weekend’s Scottish Open at the Renaissance Club.
“It feels like such a long time ago,” McIlroy said. “You’re trying to rekindle the memories as I was driving from the airport last night and getting onto the Wirral.
“I haven’t been here since 2014, so trying to get those memories back again and trying to refamiliarise myself with the range and the club, the first tee and everything. It’s nice to come back anywhere you’ve had success, it’s always a nice feeling.”
“My game feels like it’s in good shape, but I think seeing the way I played last week and being able to control my ball in pretty difficult conditions, and I feel good about that coming into this week.”
Cameron Smith is the defending champion after holding off McIlroy and Viktor Hovland last year at St Andrews.
World No 1 Scottie Scheffler, Masters champion Rahm and 2021 Open champion Collin Morikawa are among the other elite players vying for glory, along with LIV stars like Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson.
“Links golf, a lot of it is going to be dictated by the weather, right, on what you can or cannot do on the golf course, especially on a golf course like this,” Rahm said. “It’s just being able to pick your spots and play your best golf.”
And if Rahm can’t win it this week, he may be pulling for his fellow European to win his fifth major.
“He (McIlroy) still has a lot of years to play ahead of him, so I know he wants to keep adding to that tally,” Rahm said. “I’m hoping he does it. I’m pretty sure he will get that No 5 at some point.”
Rory McIlroy is off in a group with Jon Rahm and Justin Rose at 2:59pm.