Sir Nick Faldo is tipping Rory McIlroy for Open glory at St Andrews this week.
The three-time Open champion, who works part-time as a commentator on American television, was blown away by the Ulsterman’s victory in May at Quail Hollow when he shot a closing round 62.
“McIlroy has the game to challenge on Sunday,” Faldo said. “The way he finished off at Quail Hollow was really impressive.
“To take the lead after nine holes of the final round I thought, ‘Well, that was all right, let's see what he does on the back nine', and he shoots 32 on the back nine. That was really impressive. He knows if he gets his nose in front, he can do it.”
McIlroy is a graduate of the Faldo Academy and was Faldo Series champion at under-15, under-17 and under-18 level.
And it was the Faldo-designed course at Lough Erne which helped convince the 21-year-old to become their touring professional.
One of Faldo’s six Majors came at the 1990 Open at the Old Course and he reckons St Andrews, with its wide fairways, will suit McIlroy’s naturally belligerent style this week.
“You can play aggressive here,” he said. “You have to be really respectful of the bunkering but you can play pretty aggressive. You've got the par fives and four of the par fours are driveable so being aggressive with the driver would be great, if you can pull that off.”