ST ANDREWS, Scotland | Rory McIlroy doesn't want to jump too quickly into Sunday night. Not even in his wildest dreams. A British Open victory at the Old Course in St Andrews, however, would come on top of his 30 career victories.
In the cradle of golf at this 150th Open, has its time come to join a small group of golfers who have won the Claret Jug in the Holy Land?
Rory wants it. But even before he had hit his first tee shot, he did not want to put the cart before the horse. Not on such a particular course, where everything can be derailed in a few minutes.
The 33-year-old Northern Irishman knows that. In his first appearance at St Andrews in 2010, he got off to a flying start by subtracting nine strokes from par. At 21 years old and with a few hairs on his chin, he had tied the best card by recording a 63 in the opening round of the Open, and the eighth in history.
If he hadn't missed that three-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole, McIlroy would have become the first golfer to sign a 62 card in a Grand Slam tournament. That honor went to South African Branden Grace at Royal Birkdale in 2017.
“All I remember from that round is hitting my 6 iron three feet from the 17th flag and missing the putt. I then concluded with a birdie. Coming out of the course, I thought to myself that I had just missed the greatest opportunity to make history, with the first 62 in a major. I still had to improve.”
As the days go by but are not alike in golf, the gods of this sport have reserved for him an execrable round the next day. Caught in the storm, he continued with a score of 80 (+8) losing the top position in the standings. He finally finished in third place, eight shots behind the champion, Louis Oosthuizen.
“I learned a whole lesson in this edition. It was a good thing.
So we can believe that the gods of golf owe him one. Let's wait until Sunday to find out if they are so generous.
“I can't tell myself that it's my time,” said the man who put his paw on the Claret Jug at Royal Liverpool in 2014. I need to play a great tournament with four great rounds. If I get there, I can hope it will be enough to win.
“It's a dream moment, especially for Europeans,” added McIlroy, who remembers the feeling of to be named Champion Golfer of the Year. It was the first major championship I attended as a kid. That's why we dream of these moments.
“ I would like to experience it again here in a few days.
A dream that he obviously wants to make a reality , while his sport is in turmoil and has been more divided than ever in recent months. An ardent defender of the PGA and DP World tours in Europe, he wants to get ahead of the deserters who have turned their backs on them by joining the new LIV Golf series.
A jug coveted
Voicing his opinion loud and clear on the subject and frequently throwing poison darts at the players of this new “circuit”, McIlroy will do everything in his power to prevent the Claret Jug from falling between the hands of a representative of LIV Golf.
Since the Masters Tournament, at the end of which he took second place in April, McIlroy has chained good performances. He has top 10s in four of his six most recent outings, winning the Canadian Open in the process. The other two times he finished in the top 20.
He said it's been a long time since he felt so fit and confident.
It's time for the Old Course clock to tick in his favour.
St Andrews, Scotland < /h3>
150e British Open
Course: Old Course of St Andrews Links
Reigning champion: Collin Morikawa
14 M$: Total purse ($2.5M to champion)
- Course record: 61 (-11) by Ross Fisher during the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in 2017
- Best cumulative score over par:-20 by Henrik Stenson at Royal Troon in 2016
- Best cumulative score over par at St Andrews: -19 by Tiger Woods in 2000< /li>
- Most golfers finishing under cumulative par since 1963: Ernie Els 15 times
- Lowest cleaver at St Andrews since 1963: -1 in 1990
- Hardest hole of the Old Course:Par of 17th, with an average of 4.79 strokes in 1984
4 h 58 *: Collin Morikawa Rory McIlroy Xander Schauffele
5 h 09 *: Shane Lowry Justin Thomas Viktor Hovland
1873: Tom Kidd is the first golfer to lift the Claret Jug. The moment took place at St Andrews in 1873. But the name of the champion in 1872, Tom Morris Jr., is the first to be engraved on the trophy.
4: Tom Kidd (1873), Jock Hutchison (1921), Denny Shute (1933) and Tony Lema (1964) are the only golfers to have won the British Open in their first appearance at St Andrews.
* Departures on time from Quebec
St Andrews express
Whether in the evening or in the morning, wandering the narrow streets of St Andrews is a real pleasure. The walks are as magnificent as the discoveries. If you are not looking for a golf shop, there are bookstores, typical Scottish souvenir shops and small restaurants hidden through the buildings. I even came across a trade in kilts on Tuesday night. Too late to buy me a woolen checked skirt! All that's missing is the bagpipes. But I must admit that the walks on Golf Place and The Links on the way to “work” are particular both at sunrise and sunset.
While my coverage of the PGA of America Championship had been extremely difficult due to the illness that claimed my father, Pierre, a week later, -this is different. In 2015, he really convinced me to go on an adventure that made me see all the colors in St Andrews. I had learned a lot while covering my second major championship. This time, I savor every moment more, and it accompanies me in every step and in every thought. I dedicate this other beautiful unique cover to him.
The competition committee revealed yesterday the speed of the greens of the Old Course. It stands at 10.1 feet on the Stimpmeter. The speed is slower there than in the aisles! According to the words of golfers, the greens are quite receptive despite a hard surface. You just have to control the first bounce of the ball.