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McIlroy has quality to rack up Majors in quick succession: Leadbetter and Bjorn

Looking on: Rory McIlroy is watched by former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and coach David Leadbetter at Portrush
Looking on: Rory McIlroy is watched by former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn and coach David Leadbetter at Portrush
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

World-renowned golf coach David Leadbetter says he wouldn't be surprised if Rory McIlroy won "six Majors in the next three or four years".

The legendary swing coach - who has worked with Major winners such as Nick Faldo, Greg Norman and Ernie Els - was among one of the surprise guests following McIlroy during his first official practice round at Royal Portrush on Tuesday evening.

While the pair have never officially worked together, McIlroy is an admirer of Leadbetter's work, and the 67-year-old guru is equally impressed by the Ulsterman.

McIlroy hasn't won a Major since the 2014 US PGA Championship at Valhalla, but Leadbetter doesn't believe his wait will continue much longer.

"(Rory) could take off at any stage and could be like a (Novak) Djokovic and win four Majors in one year. He's that good," insisted Leadbetter.

"He seems to be right on the edge. He's playing well, right there. You look at what he did in Canada.

"You would never be surprised if he all of a sudden took off and won six Majors in the next three or four years."

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Also among McIlroy's entourage on Tuesday evening was former Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn, who also joined him on the practice range yesterday to lend his expertise.

The pair spent a long time deep in conversation on both meetings, with the Dane's presence seemingly more than just a friend observing to see how things were progressing.

"It looks like he is in a good space at the moment," observed Bjorn.

While McIlroy himself has tried to play down the impact that having insider knowledge of the course will have this week, Leadbetter opined differently.

The coach is insistent that McIlroy, as well as Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke, has a distinct advantage over his fellow competitors, however that in itself will bring its pressures.

But Leadbetter believes that this is a new version of McIlroy who will take to the links this weekend and he'll be able to cope with the weight of expectation placed on him by the capacity crowds.

"He knows the nuances of this golf course. It is a slightly different set-up to what he's used to, but he knows the course, the winds, the subtleties of the place," said Leadbetter.

"Overall, it is definitely an advantage and I don't think the pressure of the crowd is going to affect him. If anything it will spur him on, it could be his 15th club.

"There will be a positive energy out there that he can feed off. I expect him to play well."

Bjorn, meanwhile, was reassured by what he saw in Tuesday's practice, believing that the World No.3 doesn't need to change much ahead of his Open challenge.

However, like Leadbetter, good friend Bjorn has warned McIlroy against letting the momentum get the better of him, claiming that he should not try and push the matter.

"It will be a big day for him. There is a lot of anticipation and expectation. He wants to do well because it has been on his mind for such a long time," revealed Bjorn.

"Thursday is a big day as he'll want to get off to a good start. But it will be difficult, he is so popular and that can bring its own pressure.

"He looks like he is in control of what he's doing. He looks happy, he is happy with the course and he has played here so much. Now there are TV towers and cranes and grandstands, he has to get his eye into it. That will be one of the hard things.

"But he looks as solid as can be. He just needs to stay within himself and do his bit. I'm positive about where he is with his game. He has proven that he has been more consistent. He believes in what he is doing and I think that is important to him."

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