Rory McIlroy credited the “huge” importance of his win at the flagship BMW PGA Championship and an appearance at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open after securing a third Major title at last week’s Open Championship.
The 25 year old Northern Irishman, who triumphed by two shots at Royal Liverpool on Sunday to add the Claret Jug to his 2011 US Open and 2012 US PGA titles, came from seven shots back on the final day at Wentworth Club in May to claim a maiden BMW PGA Championship title and a first European Tour victory in 18 months.
One week prior to his success at Hoylake, meanwhile, McIlroy was in attendance at Royal Aberdeen, therefore becoming the fourth winner in a row – following Darren Clarke (2011), Ernie Els (2012) and Phil Mickelson (2013) – to have played the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open the week before winning The Open Championship.
The extra links preparation on the north-eastern coast of Scotland proved vital, as McIlroy suggested.
“I put a lot of extra work in,” said McIlroy, who led the Scottish Open on Thursday evening following a blistering course record 64 before eventually finishing in a tie for 14th place.
“I practiced a lot of different shots that I might need. For the most part this week I didn't really need them that much as the weather was quite benign and the wind wasn't too strong, but I prepared much better this year.
“I went and played four competitive rounds of links golf at the Scottish Open up in Aberdeen which really, really helped.
“So I felt like my preparation was really good. And I hit some different shots that I might need for links golf. It obviously worked out pretty well so I'll definitely be doing it again in the future.”
On Sunday, McIlroy also joined esteemed company in becoming the fifth player after Tony Jacklin, Arnold Palmer, Sir Nick Faldo and Seve Ballesteros to win both the BMW PGA Championship and The Open Championship and the first to achieve the impressive feat in the same year.
After something of a lull following his annus mirabilis in 2012, the Ulsterman said that, although he never lost hope, his victory over a world-class field at Wentworth two months ago was of paramount importance in kick-starting his season.
“I never had doubts, you can’t doubt your own ability,” McIlroy continued. “All I had to do was look back at some of the great tournaments that I played. The ability was still there.
“It was just trying to find a way to make it come out again. Missing the cut at Muirfield last year was a very low point as I had never missed a cut at the Open before.
“I really missed playing the weekend. I said to myself, I'll try to never make that happen again. It's been huge what a difference a year makes, I guess.
“But it's turned into a great year. The win at Wentworth was huge.”
McIlroy's win also brought up the 100th Irish victory in European Tour history since 1972 with 48 by Republic of Ireland players and 52 for Northern Ireland.