Rory McIlroy keeps focus on his own game as The Open Championship draws near

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays out of a bunker on the postage stamp 8th hole
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy plays out of a bunker on the postage stamp 8th hole
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Rory McIlroy brushed off an unflattering description of his place in golf’s “Big Four” as he looks to rediscover the aggressive approach which took him to the top of the world.

McIlroy won the Open Championship in 2014 but was unable to defend his title at St Andrews last year after suffering a serious ankle injury in a game of football with friends.

The 27-year-old was replaced at the top of the world rankings after he returned to action in the US PGA Championship and has since slipped to fourth behind Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, but gave short shrift to the suggestion in one newspaper that he was in danger of becoming Ringo Starr in golf’s version of the “Fab Four”.

“It’s probably not the first time I’ve been compared to The Beatles,” McIlroy said in a press conference at Royal Troon.

“Those guys (Spieth, Johnson and Day) are having a great run at the minute. I feel like my game has been quite consistent apart from 2013, where I didn’t play that well and it’s probably the only time in the last six years I’ve dropped outside the top 10 in the world.

“I can’t worry about other guys. If I focus on myself and make sure that I’m playing the best that I can, I’m pretty confident that if I go out and play my best golf I’m going to win more times than not.

“I’ve got four major championships, and I’d love to add to that tally, just as those guys would love to add to their one or two majors that they have and just keep going.”

McIlroy led from start to finish when he won the Open at Hoylake in 2014, before winning the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and a second US PGA title in his next two events.

But the 27-year-old feels he has erred on the side of caution in recent majors and revealed during the French Open a fortnight ago that he was taking “four or five swing thoughts” onto the course as he battled to eradicate some bad habits from his game.

“I definitely feel like I’ve become a little more conservative or tentative over the years,” the Northern Irishman added.

“There have been a couple of times this year, whether it be the third round at Augusta or even the first round at Oakmont, where I’ve been a little bit tentative and maybe just haven’t had the confidence in myself to hit the shots that are required.

“I think with experience sometimes there’s a little bit of memories that sort of stick with you and stick in your head. Sometimes they’re good, and sometimes they’re bad.

“But I feel like with the things that I’m working on in my swing, hopefully that will get me to that point, and hopefully it’s this week where I start to trust myself more with my swing, and I trust the shots that I’m trying to hit and trust that more times than not, I can pull them off.”