McIlroy relishing Scottish Open challenge

Northern Irish golfer believes revamped course will add to competition


AFP July 08, 2021

LONDON:

Rory McIlroy expects to face a tougher test at this year's Scottish Open now the course at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick has been strengthened to cope with the threat of the world's best golfers.

Two years ago, McIlroy shot 13 under par over the same 18 holes yet that was only good enough for a share of 34th place, with Bernd Wiesberger beating Benjamin Hebert in a play-off after the pair finished tied on 22 under.

McIlroy later said he was "honestly sick" of courses that offered so little challenge and that the Renaissance Club had not been "a good test".

But last year's winning total was 11-under par and, with thicker rough and new tee placings for this year, four-time major winner McIlroy expects wayward shots to be punished.

"I would say 14 under this week is probably going to have a decent chance," McIlroy said Wednesday. "It's all dependent on the weather, the direction of the wind, whether the course firms up any more than how it is right now.

"It's obviously soft just from all the rain there's been the last couple of days. But it's good. It's a good test. I think they have added a couple of tees. It's a bit longer. The rough's up a bit more than it probably was last time.

"Maybe players might just get punished a little more for wayward shots, which is sort of what you're looking for."

The Northern Irishman had planned to take this week off ahead of the British Open at Royal St George's in Sandwich, southeast England.

But with strict coronavirus controls in place for the final major of the year, McIlroy' wife Erica and daughter Poppy have remained at home in the United States, with the 32-year-old adding the Scottish Open to his schedule.

"I wouldn't say it was forced upon me, I'm not here against my will," McIlroy added, before joking about whom he might support in the Euro 2020 football semi-final between England and Denmark at London's Wembley Stadium on Wednesday.

"It made sense to play rather than go down to London for a week and sort of practise down there. I guess I could have got to Wembley and got my Danish top on!"

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