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Friday, 19 March 2010
The 138th Open Championship - Previews  (Getty Images)
The 138th Open Championship - Previews (Getty Images)

At the tender age of 20, Rory McIlroy believes he has what it takes to challenge for The Open Championship at Turnberry this week.

Two years after being the leading amateur in the event, the Northern Irishman is back as the World Number 22 and among the favourites.

"Obviously I've played a lot of links golf growing up," said McIlroy. "I hope it should help me - I feel as if I've got all the shots that are required to play good golf on links courses."

He did, however, sound one note of caution to those expecting him to figure prominently.

"There's a lot more guys in this field that have played more Open Championships. But it's nice to get back to a links. It's sort of like riding a bicycle - once you're on it you sort of somehow remember all the shots you need.

"I feel very comfortable. Hopefully that will show this week."

As a 16 year old, McIlroy had an amazing course record 61 at Royal Portrush.

Asked how the rough that day compared to some of the ferocious stuff at Turnberry he said: "I don't know - I wasn't in it!"

His preparations for this Open began six weeks ago when he and Graeme McDowell visited the course. McIlroy had eight birdies that day.

"It was very benign, but I think I only missed a couple of fairways," he said. "The rough was pretty severe then, but I really noticed a difference when I came up last Monday. The rough in some places is unplayable, you won't find your ball. If you're trying to lay up on 17 and you miss the fairway right you're just dead."

While it is McIlroy's second Open it is the first for 17 year old Ryo Ishikawa, a three-time winner on the Japan Tour who has the added pressure of partnering Woods in the first two rounds.

The World Number One was asked about the pairing during his press conference and on that Ishikawa said: "It's unbelievable that Tiger is talking about me. 

"And it is like a dream come true. Ever since I got into The Open it's like a total dream. I'm surprised to see Tiger in the same group and also fans are surprised. Needless to say, tomorrow is going to be a big day for me. I will try my best.
 
"This is my first trip to Scotland. After I arrived last Wednesday I have been enjoying Scotland, sightseeing, looking up, big sky, fishing and hiking and so on.  I also tried haggis. So very nice. Very nice taste.

"My goal is to play four days and make the cut and try to make this tournament as wonderful as it is."

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