Rory McIlroy is hoping to land his first Major title since 2014 at the Open Championship and he warmed up in style with victory at the Scottish Open.
McIlroy finished birdie-birdie in Sunday's final round to close on 15 under par at the Renaissance Club in North Berwick, one shot clear of Scotland's Robert MacIntyre, and he is 13/2 to triumph in Hoylake, where the Open starts on Thursday.
|What||2023 Open Championship|
|Where||Royal Liverpool Golf Club, Hoylake, Merseyside|
|When||Thursday 20th July to Sunday 23rd July 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports Golf|
|Odds||Rory McIlroy 13/2, Scottie Scheffler 8/1, Jon Rahm 12/1, Cameron Smith 16/1, Viktor Hovland 18/1|
Rory McIlroy won his maiden Major title at the US Open in 2011, swiftly following up by claiming the US PGA Championship the following year.
In 2014 he took his tally to four Majors by winning his second US PGA title and the Open at Hoylake's Royal Liverpool Golf Club, which is also the venue for the 2023 Open.
At that stage of McIlroy's career, few observers would have expected the brilliant Northern Irishman to still be waiting for a fifth Major nine years down the line.
Despite consistently putting himself in contention for the sport's biggest prizes, though, McIlroy has endured a series of near misses at Major tournaments and he will be desperate to end his drought back at Hoylake.
Last year he finished second in the Masters, eighth at the US PGA Championship, tied for fifth at the US Open, and third at the Open at St Andrews, two shots behind champion Cameron Smith.
After missing the cut at this year's Masters, McIlroy recorded yet another top-10 finish in the US PGA before more frustration at the US Open in Los Angeles, where he finished second, one shot behind Major maiden Wyndham Clark.
Speaking after the final round at the LA Country Club, McIlroy said: "I just didn’t quite get the job done. I’ll keep coming back. I’m right there but it’s such fine margins."
Those margins went his way at the Renaissance Club on Sunday, where he pipped an inspired MacIntyre to the title, and he will be hoping that the golfing gods continue to smile on him at Royal Liverpool.
McIlroy will be making his 14th appearance at the Open Championship and he has finished in the top five on six occasions, while missing the cut in 2013 and 2019.
In 2014 he hit the ground running at Hoylake, shooting 66 in the first two rounds, and ended up two shots clear of Rickie Fowler and Sergio Garcia with Jim Furyk a further two shots back in fourth place.
The previous winner of the Open at Hoylake was the legendary Tiger Woods and McIlroy is bidding to become the first player to win the trophy twice at the Royal Liverpool Golf Club.
He showcased his nerve and talent in the Scottish Open on Sunday with back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th – two of the most challenging holes on the course – so there should be no concerns over his form and confidence on his return to Hoylake.
While Scottish Open champion McIlroy has to be respected at 13/2 in the Open Championship betting, he is up against a top-class field in the final Major of 2023.
Scottie Scheffler, the world number one and 2022 Masters champion, is 8/1 and he also enjoyed a successful week at the Scottish Open, finishing in a tie for third place on 10 under par at the Renaissance Club.
Rickie Fowler, who was tied for second the last time Hoylake hosted the Open, is also a 20/1 chance after winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic in a play-off at the start of the month – his first tournament victory for more than four years.
However, as so often at Major tournaments, McIlroy will be the centre of attention and it will be fascinating to see whether he can match the feat of Phil Mickelson, who won the Scottish Open and then the Open Championship in successive weeks in 2013.