NORTH BERWICK, Scotland— It’s been a good week for Rory McIlroy in the $7 million Aberdeen Standard Investment Scottish Open, but it could have been so much better.
McIlroy is treating this week as a tune up for next week’s British Open at Royal Portrush. Getting his competitive juices flowing is exactly what he needs if he wants to achieve his boyhood dream of winning the Open Championship in front of his home fans on a course he loves. Problem is, The Renaissance Club bears no resemblance to next week’s challenge.
Rounds of 67, 67 and 68 have taken McIlroy to 11-under-par. That score might just win the 148th Open Championship. Not the Scottish Open. The World No. 3 heads into the final round in a tie for 31st place, nine shots off Bernd Wiesberger’s lead.
Lush, soft conditions have turned The Renaissance Club into a dart board. It’s a birdie fest. Players are firing at pins and shooting lights out. McIlroy will probably have to shoot 60 to have any chance of winning. He’s just glad he’s got four rounds under his belt before he heads home to the Open Championship.
“All I wanted to do was get a scorecard in my hand,” McIlroy said. “Doesn’t matter if the winning score is 20 under or 10 under or whatever. I just wanted to play four rounds of competitive golf. I’m going to do that this week and at least have a better idea of where my game is at heading into next week, instead of having a few weeks off and trying to figure it out once I get there.
“It doesn’t matter how many rounds I play of links golf the week before, I’ll always play better the week after playing competitively. It’s just how I feel my game gets into good shape. I’ve achieved what I wanted this week.
“The game is good. I’m driving it well. My iron play and my wedge play is as good as it has been in a long time. That’s just a continuation of what I’ve seen this year and what I’ve been working on.”
So far so good, but the Scottish Open challenge has been anything but links like, and that’s not helping McIlroy’s cause.
“I would have liked to have seen it a little more difficult, but the European Tour don’t really know how to set it up because they’ve never been here before,” he said. “They’ve kept the green speeds very slow. We play week in, week out where short siding yourself is a no-no. You don’t short side yourself here. It’s almost like you can’t short side yourself because the greens are so slow. I’d say if he greens were a foot quicker it would just make a world of difference because you’re not getting punished for missing green on the wrong side. That’s what I would have wanted.”