KLM Open: Rory McIlroy hoping for Dutch delight
Having knocked the rust off his game in the Alps, Rory McIlroy is determined to relaunch his assault on the summit of world golf in the rain-doused Netherlands today.
Golf fans are in for a real Dutch treat at the KLM Open as World No 4 McIlroy sets his sights on victory and an opportunity to hunt down the two men just ahead of him on the global ladder, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood.
Defending champion Kaymer tees it up with local hero Joost Luiten and Thomas Levet this morning and Germans are likely to cross the border in droves to watch their World No 3 in action.
Yet US Open champion McIlroy (22), is the biggest draw in golf and will attract huge galleries as he sets out this afternoon with Louis Oosthuizen and Pablo Larrazabal.
A swashbuckling figure on the course, McIlroy can be just as precocious off it and makes no secret of his desire to knock Luke Donald off the top of the world by next spring, if possible.
“I'm not desperate, but it's definitely a goal that I've set for myself,” he said. “I feel as if it's very attainable.
“It might not be this year, but definitely into next year, I can give myself a very good platform to kick off the season next year if I end the season well.
“So all I want to do is try and get closer to Lee, obviously at Number Two and then to look at Number One, Luke's got a little bit of a lead at the minute and it would be nice to get closer to him.
“But at the end of the day, winning golf tournaments takes care of that. So I want to just concentrate on trying to play well and give myself chances to win every week that I play,” added McIlroy, who proved he'd fully recovered from the wrist injury sustained at the US PGA Championship as he finished tied third in Switzerland last Sunday.
Posters advertising McIlroy's presence at the tournament festoon Amsterdam, 30 kms to the south, with a few also spotted at Schipol Airport and in the capital's main rail station.
As in Switzerland, Killarney, Atlanta and virtually every other stop he makes on Tour these days, local Dutch TV networks have been following McIlroy's every move, even from the practice range to the media centre.
However the reigning US.Open champion was unfazed and unflustered, taking it all in his stride. “I'm still trying to keep my feet on the ground, I have the same friends, and I'm still very close to my Mum and Dad,” he said.
“So I try to live as normal a life as possible. But sometimes that's not always easy.”
Ireland produced a late rally to pip defending champions Scotland in the Women's Home Internationals at Hillside on the Lancashire coast yesterday and get their challenge off to a flying start. They were staring defeat in the face when they trailed in four of the six singles having lost the foursomes 2½-½ but there were some amazing performances and the Irish took the singles 4½-1½ for an overall 5-4 success.
Gillian O'Leary won three holes on the trot from the 15th to defeat Kelsey MacDonald 3&1 while Emma O'Driscoll took two of the last three holes to edge Jane Turner on 18.
Paula Grant won the last to square with Rebecca Wilson while Royal Portrush star Charlene Reid took charge of her match against Megan Briggs to triumph 5&4.
Louise Coffey was always in control against Louise Kenney and powered to a 4&3 win.
The sole Irish loser was Lisa Maguire from Slieve Russell.
But Maguire still played her part in the victory as she and Grant secured a half point in the singles.