Rory McIlroy notices improvements in his game ahead of The Open
By Sky Sports Golf
Last Updated: 09/07/18 11:22am
Rory McIlroy believes his game showed signs of progress during the weekend at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open, giving him confidence ahead of The Open.
The tournament host made four birdies in a six-hole stretch around the turn on his way to a final-round 71 at Ballyliffin, as 2016 runner-up Russell Knox beat Ryan Fox in a play-off to take the title.
McIlroy struggled with his putting during the first two rounds but was pleased to see his fortunes improve of the greens on his way to a tied-28th finish.
"There were improvements over the weekend," McIlroy said. "I hit the ball the best I've hit it on Thursday and I felt like I sort of kept it up.
"It maybe wasn't quite as good the last three days, but I putted a lot better today. I felt a lot better about it so that was great. Sometimes when I get too square with my feet, my upper body can get a little bit left and every putt I was missing was to the left.
"I feel like I've made some improvements over the last couple of days on that and at least I know I'm trending in the right direction heading into the Open Championship."
Graeme McDowell was a further two strokes back after matching McIlroy's closing 71, prompting him to retract his plan to skip next week's Scottish Open.
McDowell suggested after his third round that he might not compete at Gullane due to the effects of fatigue and missing his family, but will make his eighth start in nine weeks to try and qualify for The Open through the Open Qualifying Series.
"The Open Championship is very important to me and I think I overreacted a little bit yesterday," McDowell said. "It was a knee-jerk reaction. I slept on it and think it's important that I go there and be focused.
"I've played so much golf there's no point quitting now when we've got more Open spots up for grabs next week - the last chance saloon."