13 July 2023

Really good start – Rory McIlroy eyeing Scottish Open glory before Hoylake test

13 July 2023

Rory McIlroy set his sights on heading to Hoylake on the back of victory in the Genesis Scottish Open after enjoying a superb start to the £7million event.

McIlroy recorded an eagle and six birdies in an opening six-under-par 64 at The Renaissance Club that left him three shots off the lead held by South Korea’s Ben An, whose flawless 61 equalled the course record.

“It’s a really good start,” McIlroy said. “I’ve not had particularly great results around this course the last couple of times but I feel like my game is definitely in better shape now.

“I feel like I’m coming in here playing really good golf, producing good results and getting myself in contention and I’m just really trying to do the same things and adapt to the different conditions we’re going to face over the next couple of weeks.”

Next week is, of course, the 151st Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, where McIlroy won the third of his four major titles nine years ago.

“My mind is pretty much on this week,” the 34-year-old added. “I’ve got myself off to a great start and I would love to win the Scottish Open.

“That’s a massive deal in its own right and what that could give me going into the summer… look we’ve got the Open Championship next week but thinking ahead to FedEx Cup and Race to Dubai and all that, it’s an important week.

“I’m focused on this week but it’s great that by playing this week I should be getting a little bit more prepared for links golf again next week as well.

“I didn’t touch my clubs for 10 days after the Travelers but I’ve got some really good feelings in my swing that I think are quite consistent and even if I do take a bit of time away I feel really comfortable getting back into it.

“It was a nice reset but after today it feels like I came back where I left off.”

An, who was the youngest ever winner of the US Amateur as a 17-year-old in 2009, carded nine birdies to enjoy a two-shot lead over American Davis Riley, with Thomas Detry alongside McIlroy on six under.

“I feel like I’m back home,” said An, who won the 2015 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth by six shots but now plays primarily on the PGA Tour.

“This is the Tour I started my professional career. It’s been great coming back and playing links golf. I couldn’t play any better today, I drove it well and hit it well and chipped it well and putted well. That’s a clean scorecard.”

Detry came agonisingly close to winning one of the sponsor’s cars for himself and his caddie with a hole-in-one on the 17th, but was delighted to be back at one of his favourite venues.

“It was inches away so I’m looking forward to seeing the highlights of that shot,” said Detry, who finished 10th last year and lost out in a play-off with Matt Fitzpatrick and eventual winner Min Woo Lee in 2021.

“It’s my playground here. I always play well. I have a lovely little cottage out here on the golf course. I’m staying here with my family and everybody is happy. I feel good.”

Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson led the home challenge following a four-under-par 66, with world number one Scottie Scheffler two strokes further back.

Defending champion Xander Schauffele had to birdie two of his last four holes to return a level-par 70.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox