x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

McIlroy insists he is under no pressure

Unlike many, the Irishman is delighted to take over the mantle of British Open heir apparent to the world's top-ranked player in Woods.

ST ANDREWS // Being described as the most likely successor to Tiger Woods as the king of St Andrews would frighten most golfers. Rory McIlroy, however, is delighted to take over the mantle of British Open heir apparent to the world's top-ranked player who won at the bastion of golf in 2000 and 2005. McIlroy, who only three years ago at Carnoustie claimed the Silver Medal prize which recognises the best amateur performance at Open championships, is now setting his sights on the main prize won that year by Padraig Harrington, his fellow Irishman from south of the border.

Less than a month after another player from his country - Graeme McDowell - stormed to victory in the US Open at Pebble Beach, McIlroy is planning to spark more celebrations in Ulster. "I knew I would come in here as one of the favourites, but it doesn't put any extra pressure on me because I know if I go out and play this golf course the way that I know I can, I should have a good chance," said McIlroy, who recently opened his title-winning account in the United States with the Quail Hollow championship.

"The Open at St Andrews is probably the biggest championship that we play, and it only comes around every five years. "There's a great atmosphere and a great buzz about the place and I'm pretty confident around this golf course. "I feel as if I've played well here before, so hopefully it will be a good week for me, and if I can go into the tournament playing the way I have been the last couple weeks, there's no reason why I shouldn't be able to contend come the weekend."

McIlroy, who is a former winner of the Dubai Desert Classic, rebuffed suggestions that, at 21, he is putting unnecessary strain on himself by talking up his prospects of a first major success. "I'm not putting myself under pressure to perform to my best level," he said. "I'm just quite confident. I feel as if I'm hitting it well coming in to this week. It just feels like it's the right time to go out and play well and win one of these big events."

* Agencies