Rory McIlroy returns for Genesis Scottish Open title defence

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Rory McIlroy successfully defended his title at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai with his focus now turning to a fourth Rolex Series victory in the lead up to next week’s Open Championship at Royal Troon. Photo: Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has arrived in East Lothian focused on another title defence as he prepares for the Genesis Scottish Open.

Related: Xander Schauffele primed for Genesis Scottish Open success

The four-time Major winner produced a brilliant birdie-birdie finish on a thrilling final day at the Renaissance Club to edge out home favourite Robert MacIntyre by one stroke last season, triumphing over a stellar field to become the first player to win the national opens of both Scotland and Ireland as well as The Open.


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Earlier this year, McIlroy successfully defended his title at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic in Dubai with his focus now turning to a fourth Rolex Series victory in the lead up to next week’s Open Championship at Royal Troon.

Oban native MacIntyre will once again lead the Scottish charge, with the 27-year-old making his sixth consecutive appearance in his home open this summer.

The two-time DP World Tour winner and recently crowned RBC Canadian Open champion finished second last year to McIlroy and will once again be vying to become the first Scot to win the event since Colin Montgomerie in 1999.


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Meanwhile, Korea’s Tom Kim believes his experience as a global player has helped him adapt to playing in Scotland as he looks to continue his love affair with links golf.

His third-place finish in his Rolex Series debut two years ago, followed by a tie for sixth last season, has left the 22-year-old feeling at home with his golf in Scotland.


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Ludvig Åberg was left to reflect on an incredible 12 months as he returns to the Scotland in search of a maiden Rolex Series victory.

The Swede played in this event in just his fifth professional start last year and left East Lothian ranked just outside the top 300 on the Official World Golf Ranking after a missed cut.

The 24-year-old has had few concerns about making weekends since, winning maiden titles on the DP World Tour and PGA TOUR, playing on a victorious European Ryder Cup team, finishing second at the Masters Tournament and rising to fourth in the world.

Player quotes

Rory McIlroy: “I just think they are the oldest and most historic titles in our game (Genesis Scottish Open, Amgen Irish Open and The Open). They have been around for a long, long time and I’ve always loved the history of the game. So I love looking at the names that have won the tournament before.

“To win trophies that Sam Snead is on or Jack Nicklaus or Gary Player or over in these parts, I think Faldo or Sandy Lyle or Seve, you know, that’s a really cool thing to me. It sort of connects you with the people who came before you. You know, it seems like more and more that the National Opens were really the only tournaments that can do that nowadays.

“There’s not a day goes by that I don’t feel like I’m the luckiest person in the world to get up every morning and be healthy and follow my dream. There’s videos of me at seven years old saying I want to be the best player in the world and I want to win all the Majors. To be able to try to make that little seven-year-old boy proud every day is something that I really don’t take for granted. I’m very appreciative of the position that I’m in in life.”

Robert MacIntyre: “This is probably the most calm I’ve been. It’s not been as frantic. Things have been under control. Yeah, my game has been up-and-down but it’s been up-and-down my whole golfing life. But this is the one that as a Scot, I really want. But there’s so much that goes into actually winning.

“Last year, I came really close but there may not be another opportunity like that in my career playing golf. I’ve just got to try and play it as another event and give it my absolute best, which I will do.

“It’s great to be home. Even if it’s just a trip back home to Oban or landing in Scotland, but playing at home is special and always will be. I’m just looking forward. Hopefully got all the bad weather out of the way yesterday and hopefully have a good week of it. I’m looking forward to the next two weeks.”

Tom Kim: “There’s certain adjustments that you need to make for sure. Because like with tee-shots, you’re definitely hitting it a little bit lower than you would actually normally do just because of wind and using the ground to your advantage.

“People think that… you can’t hit it high and stuff, and to a certain point you’re right, but that actually gives you an opportunity to hit a different club and use the ground to your advantage.

“So adjusting to new places I’m very familiar with. If you want to be as good as you want to be in the world, you have to come out here and adjust. Skill-wise, it gets to a certain point with the wind because mental toughness comes a lot into play when the conditions get tough because you have to be OK with tough breaks.

“I think people who succeed out here in the wind definitely are good at that and people who struggle I think just have a hard time adjusting to that.”

Ludvig Åberg: “It definitely feels a little bit different. I’m more familiar with the clubs now and I know a little bit more what to expect and what’s going on. But I still feel fortunate to be able to play these events and it’s been a great 12 months since.

“I think looking back at last year, I didn’t really know what to expect once I turned pro and it was a lot of unknowns in the way that I had never played a tour schedule.

“It’s a world-class event and it’s really fun to be here. The golf course is hard but the weather looks to be decent, I think. So fingers crossed. But don’t expect too much.

“Got to play this event last year for the first time and it’s nice to be back and obviously playing in Europe is fun. The crowds are great and are always very supportive in Europe. I’d like to think that it’s a little bit different playing in America.

“Obviously it’s great as well but over here it’s almost like I’m one of their own and it’s fun to feel that and fun to feel the support and hopefully give them something to cheer this week.”