Rory McIlroy looks set to hand this year’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open a huge boost by opting to play in the Rolex Series event in East Lothian rather than the Irish Open the previous week.
The four-time major winner has not actually stated in public yet that he will be in the field for the Scottish Open’s first visit to The Renaissance Club on 11-14 July.
However, his comments about the Irish Open at Lahinch in an interview this week with the BBC indicate a visit to Scotland’s Golf Coast will be part of his preparations for The Open at Royal Portush.
“If there is ever a year when I feel I can miss this Irish Open, it’s this year,” said McIlroy, referring to the fact The Open is being held a fortnight later on Irish soil for the first time since 1951.
“If I was to play the Irish Open, the Open Championship would be my third event in a row. For me, that’s not the best way to prepare for what could be the biggest event of my life.”
The world No 8, who hosted the tournament for four years before handing over the reins to Paul McGinley for this year’s event, added: “I love the Irish Open. I’ve supported it in my whole career. The people of Ireland are still going to see me playing golf because I’m going to play the Open Championship and I’m sure a lot of people will travel from down south.”
McIlroy last played the Scottish Open at Dundonald Links in 2017, when he missed the cut at Dundonald Links in Ayrshire at a time when he was struggling with his game.
His previous appearance prior to that was at Royal Aberdeen in 2014, when he finished joint-14th then won The Open for the first time the following week at Royal Liverpool.
He was due to play in the 2015 event at Gullane before injuring himself playing football, costing him the chance to defend the Claret Jug at St Andrews as well.
It is believed that McIlroy paid a visit, though only a social one, to The Renaissance Club when he was in East Lothian towards the end of last year as a guest at Oliver Fisher’s wedding next door at Archerfield.