The 150th Open: Rory McIlroy high on confidence and backs Tiger Woods to impress at St Andrews
McIlroy ahead of his bid for a fifth major title and first since 2014: "I can't go in here thinking that this might be my time. I just have to go out and play a really good tournament" - Watch The Open live on Thursday from 6.30am on Sky Sports The Open
By Ali Stafford at St Andrews
Last Updated: 13/07/22 8:28am
Rory McIlroy insists his confidence levels are high as he looks to end his major drought and claim a historic victory at “the holy grail” of golf in The 150th Open.
McIlroy arrives at St Andrews as one of the pre-tournament favourites are an impressive start to the year, having posted top-eight finishes in the first three majors and registering a 21st PGA Tour title with a successful title defence at the RBC Canadian Open.
The world No 2 lifted the Claret Jug in 2014, the same year he claimed the most recent of his four major titles at the PGA Championship, with McIlroy pleased with the state of his game heading into the final men's major of the year.
"Yeah, I'm playing well," McIlroy told the media on Tuesday. "I'm in good form. My confidence in my game is as high as it's been in quite a while.
"I can't go in here thinking that this might be my time. I just have to go out and play a really good tournament. I've got to string four good rounds together, and hopefully at the end of the week, that's good enough to win.
"I'm happy where everything's at, and I just can't get ahead of myself, and just have to make sure that I prepare well the next couple of days and get myself in the right frame of mind for Thursday."
McIlroy has only made one Open appearance at St Andrews, finishing tied-third in the 2010 contest following a record-equalling 63 on the opening day with a second-round 80 while the Northern Irishman missed his title defence in 2015 after injuring his ankle playing football.
"I don't know if a golfer's career isn't complete if you don't [win at St Andrews], but I think it's the holy grail of our sport," McIlroy added. "Not a lot of people are going to get that opportunity to achieve that, but that's what winning an Open at St Andrews is. It's one of the highest achievements that you can have in golf.
"There's a lot of great players that have won Opens and maybe not had won Opens at St Andrews, so I think it's unfair to say that a golfer's career isn't complete without that, but it's certainly up there with one of the greatest things you can do in our game."
Forecasts for calm conditions in Scotland have led to some players predicting the layout is in danger of record-low scoring this week on the Old Course, although McIlroy believe the iconic course presents enough challenges to prevent that from happening.
"I don't think we are going to see it," McIlroy said. "You can bomb it and get close to the greens but that doesn't necessarily mean you are going to make birdies.
"I can see it (the winning total) being low, but I can't see something in the 20 under range. Everyone has seen how firm and fast the fairways are and it's going to get pretty tricky at the end of the week."
Could Tiger win again at St Andrews?
Tiger Woods returns to action for the first time since withdrawing mid-tournament from the PGA Championship in May, with the former world No 1 wanting "at least one more run" at the venue where he won The Open in both 2000 and 2005.
McIlroy played a practice round with Woods last week in Ireland and was one of his team-mates in Monday's Celebration of Champions, a special four-hole contest, with the Northern Irishman backing the 15- time major champion to impress again this week.
"I think the way the golf course is and the way the conditions are, I could certainly see it [Woods contending]," McIlroy added. "It's going to be a game of chess this week, and no one's been better at playing that sort of chess game on a golf course than Tiger over the last 20 years.
"For those four holes [in the Celebration of Champions on Monday], he was moving better than I'd seen him move in a while. That was really good to see.
"Hitting the golf ball and swinging the club aren't the issue, it's the walking part of it that's the struggle, but he seemed to be moving well. Everything looked pretty good yesterday [Monday], so that's encouraging."
Watch The 150th Open throughout the week live on Sky Sports' dedicated channel. Live coverage begins on Thursday from 6.30am live on Sky Sports The Open.