RORY McIlroy, who seemed to write off his chances of adapting his game to the demands of Lytham, has had a change of heart.
Twelve months ago, after a disappointing Open at Sandwich, McIlroy, winner of the 2012 United States Open, said it was not worthwhile adapting his game to suit conditions he was likely to encounter this week, but now he said: “Those comments were just pure frustration, having really high expectations (at Sandwich) coming off a major win.”
The popular golfer from Northern Ireland, one of today’s later first-round starters, said: “I feel like I am hitting the ball great, the best I have swung all year - I have done a lot of work on that.
“I have had a few good looks at the place and feel like I know what I am doing out there now and just looking forward to the week - I am excited to get started.”
McIlroy added: “The rough is obviously up.
“There’s been a lot of growth because there’s been a lot of rain the last few weeks. “You’re just going to have to do a really good job of trying to keep it out of the fairway bunkers and keeping it out of the rough.”
McIlroy’s build-up to Lytham this year as been in contrast to Sandwich 12 months ago when he was the man in demand after his historic US Open win.
And he has followed the lead of the legendary Jack Nicklaus, playing with one ball. On Sunday I played the last 13 holes with one ball and before that on Friday afternoon I played the back nine with one ball.
“The last couple of days, I’ve tried to play the last four holes with one ball just to try it.
“On Friday I shot four under on the back nine with one ball, which was good.
“On Monday my target was to shoot one under and I did that. “On Tuesday it didn’t go so well - I shot one over for the last four holes.”
Overall, McIlroy was pleased with his practice. It gets you back into that competitive frame of mind.”