Rory McIlroy said he was doing his best to stay in “his own little world” at the 150th Open, as crowds flocked to see him post a 66th round, sharing a four-stroke lead with Viktor Hovland heading into the final day at St. Andrews.
“The support I’ve had this week has been absolutely incredible,” McIlroy said. “I appreciate it and I feel it out there. But at the same time I try my hardest to stay in my own little world because that’s the best way for me to bring out the best in myself.”
The Northern Irishman is well aware of his eight-year wait for a major championship, following his Open win at Royal Liverpool in 2014, and says the distraction proved to be the best preparation here on the Old Course, with the 33-year-old. revealed that he got very emotional watching Ireland sensationally beat the All Blacks in the morning.
“Unfortunately, no rugby to watch tomorrow morning,” continued McIlroy. “I watched two rugby games this morning, which was really good. A little emotional when Ireland won, actually. It’s a great achievement for them.”
Whether he gets emotional when he shows up at the 18th fairway on Sunday remains to be seen. Tiger Woods was in tears ahead of Friday’s historic final fairway, amid speculation that this year may be his last competitive game at St Andrews. This place can do it for you.
“I think it’s appreciating the moment as well and appreciating the fact that it’s incredibly cool to have the opportunity to win the Open at St Andrews,” McIlroy added. “That’s what makes dreams. And I will try to make dreams come true tomorrow.”
After three flawless birdies on the front nine, McIlroy’s round caught fire in the 10th minute. He found a bunker guarding the front of the 10th green – the first time this week he had found the sand – but sensationally made an eagle two and raised the biggest cheer of the tournament so far.
“Anything within 10 feet I feel would be a very good shot. It came out perfectly,” the four-time grand winner said, smiling. “It was a skill to take it somewhere close, but it was luck that it got into the hole.”
McIlroy continued to exchange punches with Hovland and both ended up overshooting on the green in the 17th minute, with McIlroy doing well to only make a bogey after finding himself pinned to the wall over the road.
Hovland made a fine par after placing out of the way to tie the score again towards the latter. The 24-year-old has never finished in the top 10 at a major tournament in his 12 attempts, but has a real chance of snatching the crowd favourite. “I was thinking what am I doing here?” said the Norwegian. “It’s pretty crazy from where I grew up. I have to pinch myself, but that doesn’t mean I will hold back.”
Rory McIlroy vows to ‘try and make it a dream’ at The Open | Rory McIlroy
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