‘It’s the Holy Grail’ – Rory McIlroy on a quest to ‘complete’ career by winning The Open at St Andrews

RORY McILROY is on a quest for the ‘Holy Grail of golf’ — an Open victory at St Andrews.

Rory McIlroy has already claimed the game’s most iconic trophy, the Claret Jug.

But he said repeating his Hoylake victory of 2014 at the Home of Golf would be even more memorable.

Jack Nicklaus famously said the game’s great players would not feel complete unless they had won at the Old Course, a view backed up by Tiger Woods.

Rory McIlroy, 33, probably feels that is easy for them to say — as they have both done it!

But he admits it is an extra incentive as he bids for a long-overdue fifth Major triumph.

The Northern Irishman said: “I don’t know if a golfer’s career isn’t complete if you don’t win an Open at St Andrews, but I do think it’s the Holy Grail of our sport.

“The Open is played here every five years or so. Not a lot of people are going to achieve that because you are only going to be playing at a high enough level to give yourself that chance for so many years.

“And there are a lot of great players who have won Opens and maybe not had success here.

“So it’s a little unfair to say you aren’t complete without a win here.

“But it does sum up what winning an Open at St Andrews means — it’s one of the greatest things you can do in our game, one of the very highest achievements you can have in golf.”

McIlroy was put on the spot by being asked which one he would prefer to win, this Open or the Masters — the one Major he needs to complete the career Grand Slam.

He thought about that for a while, and replied: “I guess it’s both.

“Obviously, I’d love to win this week, and everyone knows what a victory at Augusta would mean to me. So, yeah, I’ll be greedy and say that I’ll take both.”

McIlroy admits he is desperate to end his Major drought, which stretches back to 2014.

And he said that hunger bites even deeper when he recalls his feelings at raising the Claret Jug aloft after his Hoylake triumph eight years ago.

McIlroy added: “That’s a moment you dream about, especially being from this part of the world. This was the Major championship.

“It was the first one I ever attended as a kid. So, yeah, it just means a little bit more.

“To hear your name announced as winner of the gold medal and Champion Golfer of the Year, it’s what dreams are made of.

“I still remember that pretty  vividly. I’d love to replicate that on Sunday evening.”

It would help if McIlroy could repeat the course-record-equalling 63 he shot in the first round of his only previous Open at St Andrews, as a raw 21-year-old in 2010.

But he admits the details of that round are a blur now.

The only thing that stick in my mind from that 63 — and this is a good lesson in human behaviour — is hitting a six iron into three feet at 17 and missing the putt.Rory McIlroy

He explained: “I honestly don’t remember much of that round at all.

“I’d have to watch highlights to remember what I did, or how I played, or where I made birdies.

“The only thing that sticks out in my mind from that 63 — and this is  a good lesson in human behaviour — is hitting a six iron into three feet at 17 and missing the putt. Then I birdied the last.

“I remember that because I came off the golf course thinking that was a really good opportunity to become the first person ever to shoot 62 in a Major, and I didn’t quite get it done. So you can always be better.”

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