The 148th Open: Rory McIlroy aims to feed off home support at Portrush
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 20/06/19 11:46pm
Rory McIlroy insists he will not be distracted by the weight of expectation from the home support at The 148th Open next month and declared "I want to win it for me".
McIlroy is certain to attract vast galleries for the final major of the year next month when The Open returns to Royal Portrush for the first time since 1951 and, while he intended to "harness" the encouragement from the fans in his homeland, he is wary of the pitfalls of trying too hard.
The 30-year-old believes that winning for himself, first and foremost, is the best way to please the locals as well as his legion of fans worldwide as he bids to avoid going over five years since the last of his four major victories.
"As much as you want to win for other people and for a lot of other different things, the No 1 thing is you want to win for yourself," McIlroy said at the official UK and Ireland launch of GOLFPASS, golf's most-comprehensive digital membership program launched by the 2014 Open champion earlier this year.
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"It is definitely a situation that's happened to me in the Irish Open before, and it took me a few years playing Irish Opens to realise that.
"Golf is a selfish sport, and you want to win for yourself. You want to have that under your belt, and everything else is just a by-product of that. If you can really harness that support you're getting and use it to your advantage and not feel like it's a burden, then it can only help.
"Whatever happens at Portrush, at this point in my career, I want to win for me. It's not about trying to do something in front of friends and family. I've been fortunate enough to win an Open Championship before, and I'd dearly love to win another one.
"I think it obviously will make it more special if I could win at Portrush, but I just have to treat it like every other Open Championship that I've played the last few years, and my record in The Open the last few years has been better than pretty much any other tournament I've played.
"I just have to go in with the same mindset as in other Opens I've played in, and I just have to harness that support and use it the best way I can."
McIlroy is also aware of the impact that lifting the Claret Jug would have as he looks to provide extra inspiration for the next generation of golfers, not just in his homeland but worldwide as well.
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"I'd like to think that what I've already done so far in my career has inspired a lot of kids back home," McIlroy added, who fired a course-record 61 on the Dunluce course at Royal Portrush when aged just 16.
"Hopefully, it won't be just this one opportunity I have to play an Open Championship in Northern Ireland that's going to inspire people. Obviously, I hope that's the case. There's nothing that I'd like more than to lift that Claret Jug in front of all my friends and family from back home and all the kids it may inspire.
"Obviously, I don't go home as much as I used to, but the impact that I feel I've had - and not just me, it's Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington and all the other Irish golfers - the impact that they've had on junior golfers back home, I think, has been incredible.
"For me, the one that really stands out in my mind was Tiger winning the Masters in 1997, that was my inspirational moment in the game and that was when I knew I wanted to try to emulate what he did. So that was my big inspirational moment, I guess.
"I think you just have to go about your job and do the best you can and hopefully set a good example and be a good role model. I feel like I try my best to do all those things, and hopefully that does inspire the next generation of golfers."