By TOM LaMARRE
Everybody knows Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland is a winner, and he proved it again last Sunday when he hit four perfect shots on the last two holes to win the Genesis Scottish Open by one stroke over Robert MacIntyre of Scotland.
Now he will try to do it again in a major championship in the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool Golf Course in Hoylake, Wirral, England.
The 34-year-old McIlroy has 37 victories as a professional, including four major championships, but none of the latter since he won the PGA Championship in 2014 at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Ky.
Earlier that year, he won the Open Championship at Hoylake.
“No one wants me to win another major more than I do,” McIlroy said after he finished one stroke behind Wyndham Clark solo second at the U.S. Open last month on the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club. “I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”
McIlroy has 24 top-10 finishes in the majors over the course of his career, including second three times and third on four occasions. He also won the 2011 U.S. Open at xxx and the 2012 PGA Championship at xxx.
That means he is only a victory in the Masters short of the Career Grand Slam, and McIlroy has finished in the top 10 seven times at Augusta National.
However, that’s not on McIlroy’s mind this week and obviously he is tired of talking about it because he pulled out of his scheduled Tuesday press conference.
“If I get myself into a similar position this week, I will certainly draw on what I did last week,” McIlroy said on Monday. “But as of right now and getting prepared for this tournament, all that has to be put on the backburner. I just have to focus on getting ready to tee off on Thursday.
“(Winning at Hoylake) feels like such a long time ago. 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 re familiarize 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.”
Seventh-ranked Cameron Smith of Australia is the defending Open champion, having won the 150th edition last year at St. Andrews, and he’s won three times in the last year since making the jump to LIV Golf.
Other former Open champions in the field include Collin Morikawa, Shane Lowry of Ireland, Francesco Molinari of Italy, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Zach Johnson, Ernie Els of South Africa, Padraig Harrington of Ireland, Stewart Cink, Darren Clarke of Northern Ireland, John Daly, Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and Phil Mickelson.
1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland—Four amazing shots on the last two holes gave McIlroy his 37th pro victory last Sundayand he might be the best player in the world again, but is ranked No. 2. Rory has four major titles, but none since the 2014 Open at Royal Liverpool, site of this week’s event. He has been close, with 23 other top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam tournaments.
2. Scottie Scheffler, United States –The top-ranked Scheffler won The Players and the WM Phoenix Open earlier this season and now is on a streak of seven straight finishes in the top five, even though he hasn’t won again. His only major victory came in the Masters last year and he has finished in the top 10 in all three majors this year and a total of nine times in his career.
3. Jon Rahm, Spain – Even though he has won four times on the PGA Tour this year, including his second major title in the Masters, Rahm has dropped to No. 3 in the world. He also tied for 10th in the U.S. Open, but is coming off a missed cut in the Travelers. Rahm also won the 2021 U.S. Open and has 11 top-10 finishes in the majors, but only one in the Open Championship.
4. Cameron Smith, Australia – The defending Open champion, having won by one stroke over Cameron Young last year at St. Andrews, has also won twice since he made the jump to LIV Golf in addition to winning the 2023 Fortinet Australian PGA Championship. Smith has eight top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam events, but his victory last season was his first in the Open.
5. Rickie Fowler, United States – Fowler has regained his old form and won for the first time in four seasons when he beat Collin Morikawa and Adam Hadwin in a playoff at the Rocket Mortgage Classic at the beginning of this month, his eighth top-10 finish of the season. He has never won a major championship despite having 12 results in the top 10, including three seconds.
6. Brooks Koepka, United States – Claimed his fifth major championship in May, when he captured the PGA Championship for the third time after he tied for second in the Masters in April. Koepka has eight top-25 finishes in LIV Golf this season including a victory in the Orlando Invitational. Has recorded 18 top-10 finishes in the majors, including four in the Open.
7. Viktor Hovland, Norway – The fifth-ranked Hovland has won the Hero World Challenge and the Memorial Tournament while posting 15 finishes in the top 25 since last October, and hasn’t missed a cut in more than a year. Tied for seventh in the Masters, tied for second in the PGA and was 19th in the U.S. Open, and has eighth top-25 results in the majors, but has yet to win one.
8. Tommy Fleetwood, England – Will try to become the first Englishman to win the Open since Nick Faldo claimed his third title in 1992 at Muirfield. Fleetwood has six top-10 finishes in the majors in his career, including solo second behind Shane Lowry in 2019 at Royal Portrush. This season, he has six top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour, including a tie for fifth in the Masters.
9. Xander Schauffele, United States – The sixth-ranked Schauffele has 14 finished in the top-10 without winning this season, including second in the Wells Fargo Championship and ties for 10th in the Masters and the U.S. Open. The 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist has never won a major, but has 11 finishes in the top 10, including a tie for second behind Francesco Molinari in 2018.
10. Shane Lowry, Ireland – Lowry captured his only major title in 2019, when he romped to a six-stroke victory over Tommy Fleetwood in the Open at Royal Portrush. He has six other top-10 finishes in the Grand Slam events, including a tie for second in the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont. This season, Lowry has 10 finishes in the top 25, the best a tie for fifth in the Honda Classic.
OTHER PLAYERS TO WATCH: Dustin Johnson, United States; Tyrrell Hatton, England; Jordan Spieth, United States; Patrick Cantlay, United States; Matt Fitzpatrick, England; Collin Morikawa, United States; Tom Kim, South Korea; Max Homa, United States; Bryson DeChambeau, United States; Adam Scott, Australia; Robert MacIntyre, Scotland.
1. Cameron Tringale, United States – Made the jump to LIV Golf this season had has finished in the top 20 in all nine events he has played. T-14 in 2022 U.S. Open was best results in majors.
2. Nacho Elvira, Spain – Five-time winner at a pro lost in a playoff recently to Rasmus Hojgaard in the Made in Himmerland. Elvira is making his first start of his career in a major.
3. Sami Valimaki, Finland – Has won six titles as a professional and this season finished second in the Joburg Open and the Singapore Classic. Valimaki also is making his debut in the majors.
4. Harold Varner, United States – Claimed the third victory of his career in May at the LIV Golf Washington, D.C., event. Varner’s best finish in the majors was a T-23 in the 2022 Masters.
5. Kazuki Higa, Japan – Higa has won 10 times on professional tours in Asia but his best finish in three starts in the Grand Slam tournaments was solo 76th in the PGA at Oak Hill in May.
For first-round tee times, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard