A year ago, a frustrated Rory McIlroy said he didn't like tournaments like the British Open - ones whose winner is dictated heavily by the weather.
On the eve of what is anticipated to be a nasty week of wind and rain at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, the world No. 2 believes he can thrive.
“Of course I can play in the wind," McIlroy said to the U.K.-based Telegraph. "I grew up doing so and have played well in the Dunhill Links and made the best score (following an opening 63) on a blustery weekend at St. Andrews in 2010 after my second-round 80. But I suppose nobody will believe me until I prove that I can.”
A year ago at Royal St. Georges, expectations were sky high for McIlroy, who had won the U.S. Open by eight shots at Congressional. A lousy weekend of weather and form left McIlroy frustrated and bemoaning what so many romanticize about the game's third major.
Having missed the cut in four of his last six worldwide starts, McIlroy perhaps faces diminished pressure this week. At the same time, he feels renewed confidence in his game and an affinity for Lytham.
“My game feels back where it was,” he said. “I’m excited about Lytham. It’s one of those courses that I don’t have to make suit my eye, but does suit my eye."
Another change from a year ago is his budding relationship with former No. 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. McIlroy has heard the talk that they are symbiotically toxic for each other. McIlroy dismisses that notion.
“I’m aware what’s been said, but it’s just about caring for yourself and thinking, ‘Am I content’?” he said. “I’ve always said if I’m happy, that’s when I play my best golf. And I did for a while.”