It’s been three years since Rory McIlroy tasted victory in a major championship but the four-time major winner feels under no pressure to add to his tally.
Speaking ahead of teeing it up at Royal Birkdale – ten years on from his debut as an amateur at Carnoustie – the 28-year-old touched upon his expectations for the week before reeling off his list of achievements since his first appearance.
“I want to win this week but I don't need to win,” said McIlroy. “A second Open Championship isn't going to change my life. But I want to win.
“I'm still as ambitious now as I was starting off my career, if not more so now because I know what I've achieved and I know what I can achieve. So it only makes you want to do that even more. “If you were to ask me in Carnoustie ten years ago, okay, you're going to be sitting in your press conference in ten years' time at Birkdale, what would you like to have achieved?
“If someone told me, you're going to be a four-time major winner and you won the Open, and you're one leg away from the career grand slam, you've played on three winning Ryder Cup teams, you've won the Order of Merit three times in Europe and you've won the FedExCup in the States I'd be, like, yeah, I'll take that! That's pretty good.
“But having that success, you only want to do that more. So I definitely haven't lost the hunger that I've always had.”
So the hunger is there, but what about the game? Despite his recent form and lack of competitive golf this year due to injury, McIlroy is confident of contending and sees his odds of 20/1 in some places as pretty generous.
“It’s a good time to back me, I think,” he added. “20/1? I mean, look, if I was a betting company and I saw my form over the past few weeks, you would say, yeah, that's probably a fair enough price.
“But, again, all it takes is one week for those odds to go back to, I don't know, 7/1, 8/1 at Quail Hollow. So as I say, it’s a good week to back me.”
Rory McIlroy tees off at 2.48pm tomorrow alongside Dustin Johnson and Charl Schwartzel.