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McIlroy seeks to end major drought

RORY McIlroy returns to Hoylake in a bid to end his major drought. Patrick Smith/agence france-presse

HOYLAKE, United Kingdom (AFP) — Rory McIlroy returns to the scene of his sole British Open triumph at Hoylake this week hoping fond memories can help him snap a nine-year major drought, even if they do make him feel old.

McIlroy, 34, seemed destined for double-digit major titles when he swept all before him at the Royal Liverpool course in 2014 and went onto win the PGA Championship less than a month later.

But the Northern Irishman has remained on four majors ever since, despite remaining one of world golf’s brightest stars.

“I’ve had so many close calls since,” said the world No. 1.

“I’ve had a great nine years and won a lot of tournaments but the big four have eluded me. Hopefully, this week that’s something I can change.”

The past two years in particular have brought a series of cases of what might have been for McIlroy.

He has finished in the top 10 at six of the last seven majors.

Twelve months ago, he was in pole position to follow in the legendary footsteps of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods by becoming an Open champion at St Andrews as he shared the lead heading into the final round.

But a cold putter and a stunning eight-under-par final round from Cameron Smith saw the Australian claim the Claret Jug.

It was a similar story at last month’s US Open when the unheralded Wyndham Clark held off McIlroy to win by one shot.

A birdie-birdie finish in blustery conditions to win the Scottish Open last week could prove to be just the confidence boost McIlroy needs heading to Hoylake.

“It’s nice to have the validation. It’s great racking up top fives and top 10s, but it’s much nicer heading away with a trophy on a Sunday afternoon,” McIlroy added.

“It’s a great shot of confidence and helps having something fresh in my memory. If I hopefully find myself in a similar position next week where I have a chance to win with nine holes to go, I can certainly draw on what I did (at the Scottish Open).”

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