It got him more practice rounds at Royal St. George’s in advance of this week’s British Open in Sandwich, England.
“I wasn’t planning on playing the Scottish Open a few weeks ago anyway, so just to get a couple of competitive rounds in and just learn a little bit more and figure out what I need to do [was good],’’ McIlroy said Tuesday. “Look, it would have been great to stay and play an extra couple days in Scotland, but to be down here [to Royal St. George’s] and get a few holes in on Saturday, play a full round on Sunday, felt like I got a bit of a head start on the rest of the field, which feels good.’’
McIlroy last played the British Open in 2019 at Royal Portrush, a home course of sorts for him in Northern Ireland. He missed the cut.
Asked if it still bothers him that he missed the cut at his “home’’ Open, McIlroy said: “Not really. I ended up winning the FedExCup in 2019, so it gave me a few million reasons to feel better. I didn’t dwell on it that much. If anything, it was a catalyst for me to play some of my best golf.
“I left Portrush obviously very disappointed, but by February of 2020, a few months down the line, I got back to No. 1 in the world. It was tough, but the great thing about golf is there’s always next week. You can always get back on the horse.’’
McIlroy has been a master at getting back on the horse after poor performances. Eight of the last nine times he has missed a cut, McIlroy has gone on to finish in the top-20 in his following start. Three of those times, he won the next start.
“I certainly don’t think it’s a chance statistic,’’ Mcllroy said. “I think in golf you always learn more about your game when you’ve missed a cut or struggled or not played as well. I’ve always learned more from disappointments and from not doing as well.”
“I’ve been able to do that in the past. I missed the cut at Memorial a couple years ago, went down and won the Canadian Open the next week. Yeah, missed the cut at the Masters and then went and my next start was Quail Hollow and I won [in May].
“Golf always just gives you another opportunity to go out and play well and to see if you’ve learned from your mistakes, and I’ve always made it a priority in my career to really try to learn from my mistakes, all the way back to what happened at Augusta in ‘11 and going and winning the U.S. Open the next major.’’
Billy Horschel on Tuesday unveiled a special bag designed with the crest of Premier League soccer team West Ham United. Horschel, 34, is ranked No. 25 in the world, reached out to West Ham captain and avid golfer Mark Noble to ask permission by the club to have the Hammers’ crest embroidered onto his golf bag, which also features the logo of his college team, the University of Florida.
“I’ve always been a West Ham United fan, we’re not far from London, so why not do a West Ham United bag?’’ Horschel said on Instagram. “It’s Claret and Blue with the West Ham United crest on it so that is the bag I will be rocking this week. Hopefully it brings me some luck and some support from my fellow Hammers!”
Several of the first-round tee times announced Tuesday stand out as must-see-TV, including Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth and Branden Grace playing at 4:25 a.m. Eastern time Thursday, McIlroy, Patrick Reed and Cameron Smith at 10:21 a.m., Phil Mickelson, Tyrrell Hatton and Kevin Kisner at 9:48 a.m., Dustin Johnson, Will Zalatoris and Justin Rose at 5:20 a.m., Jon Rahm, Shane Lowry and Louis Oosthuizen at 9:58 a.m. and Brooks Koepka, Jason Kokrak and Garrick Higgo at 3:03 a.m.
Richard Bland, who got into the Open field by winning the British Masters at age 48 in May, ending a 477-tournament streak without a victory, will hit the first tee shot to begin the Open Championship at 1:35 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday.
“Truly an honour that I’ve been given the opening tee shot @TheOpen some I’ll remember for the rest of my life,’’ Bland said on Twitter.
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