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Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Wednesday, 14 July 2010 15:46 UK

McDowell win at Pebble Beach inspires McIlroy for Open

The Open Championship, St Andrews, 15-18 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, Red Button, BBC Sport website, with updates on BBC Radio 5 live Full coverage details

McIlroy drives off in practice at St Andrews on Wednesday
McIlroy drives off in practice at St Andrews on Wednesday

Rory McIlroy's confidence for this week's Open at St Andrews has been boosted by the US Open success of his compatriot Graeme McDowell last month.

McDowell secured his first major title at Pebble Beach and now McIlroy wants to make it a Northern Ireland double.

"It gave me a lot of confidence just to know winning a major wasn't as far away as I thought it was," he said.

"I viewed winning majors as this sort of higher level and it sort of just made me realise that it wasn't."

He added: "You just needed to play well in the right week and a few things go your way. It gave me a lot of confidence."

The 21-year-old from Holywood is second favourite behind Tiger Woods to win the Claret Jug.

Just how comfortable McIlroy feels on the Old Course can be illustrated by the fact that he has never scored worse than 69 in tournament action.

It was at the 2007 Open at nearby Carnoustie that McIlroy first came to the attention of the wider golfing public when, as an 18-year-old amateur, he shot a three-under par 68 in the first round to share third.

He promptly turned professional and his first top-level win came in the 2009 Dubai Desert Classic as he shot into the world top 20.

This year it has been a bit of a mixed bag as he won his first event on the US PGA Tour and broke into the world top 10, but he has struggled in the majors, missing the cut at both The Masters and the US Open.

At St Andrews he is optimistic he can put that behind him, given that it is a very different layout to both Augusta and Pebble Beach and more suited to his aggressive style of play.

"This course is a little different. There's a bit more margin for error, especially around the greens and off the tee, as well, because the rough isn't quite as penal this week as it has been in the past," he said.

"I mean, if you look at the winners that have played here before, John Daly in '95, Tiger the last couple of times, they're guys that are renowned for hitting it long and being quite aggressive. Hopefully that will play into my hands.

"I've played well here in the past and if I don't let the occasion get the better of me, there's no reason I shouldn't be able to do so again."

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see also
McDowell aware of major pitfalls
13 Jul 10 |  Golf
McDowell to partner Furyk at Open
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Rose partners Woods at St Andrews
12 Jul 10 |  Golf
Woods suffers in St Andrews gales
11 Jul 10 |  Golf
Runner-up Clarke seals Open place
11 Jul 10 |  Golf
McDowell in historic US Open win
21 Jun 10 |  Golf

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