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Rory McIlroy will begin the first of a triple-header on Thursday afternoon when he tees off for the first round of the 2021 Irish Open.
He had hoped to bring his family to Kilkenny with him but strict travel restrictions made this tough and impractical with the golfer instead opting to go alone and play in the Scottish Open next week.
This will be followed by the Open Championship in two weeks time, giving the golfer a run of three tournaments in three weeks.
“I just felt like it wasn’t fair to put them through what they would have to go through to be here with me, so plans changed very quickly,” said McIlroy.
The 32-year-old has never played at Mount Juliet before but is enjoying his time there.
He did go to the course as a child to watch the WGC-American Express Championship in 2002 and 2004 and has fond memories of his time there.
He was on the 18th green for the prize ceremony when Tiger Woods won the tournament in 2002 and even managed to close to the American golfing icon.
“His glove was still in the back pocket and I could have reached and got it and ran – it would have been a great story to tell him.”
Working with coach Pete Cowen has got Rory back into his stride at times and he is eyeing up silverware for the second half of the 2021 season.
His win at Quail Hollow last month is a positive sign that their work is coming together nicely.
After getting himself into contention at the US Open, he wants to chase another major with the Open only two weeks away.
McIlroy also cited the FedEx Cup, the Race to Dubai and the Ryder Cup as challenges he wants to tackle.
The current number 10 in the world feels confident after his promising Torrey Pines performance.
“I went out at Torrey on Sunday at least with a plan….previously over the last couple of years it has been more of a wishful, hopeful sort of thing.”
However, he is still looking forward to the Irish Open and many are confident that he will get the win on Sunday.
McIlroy noted similarities between the course designed by Jack Nicklaus and the course at the K Club, where he won in 2016.
Parkland courses are something McIlroy plays often overseas on the PGA Tour.
Following in the footsteps of his hero Tiger Woods and join the list of Major winners with a victory at Mount Juliet is something that McIlroy wants to do.
“I hope to continue that trend for sure.”
Irish Open tee times for Irish players and TV details are available here.