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The Open: Rory McIlroy keen to break American stranglehold on majors

8:49 pm, 18th July 2018

American players have won the last four men’s majors, while the US also hold the main team competitions including the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, and McIlroy is fully aware of the tough challenge ahead to end their run.

Five of the top seven players in the current world rankings are American, with McIlroy beginning the week ranked eighth as he bids to win his first major title since lifting his fourth at the PGA Championship in 2014.

McIlroy is keen to end the cycle as soon as possible before he spearheads Europe’s bid to reclaim the Ryder Cup in Paris at the end of September, but he is wary of the strength in depth in American golf.

“Obviously, with the Americans dominating the individual tournaments, that sort of gives them confidence going into the Ryder Cup,” McIlroy said. “But there could be two American players who could win the next two majors, and Europe could win the Ryder Cup.

“Look, they’ve got so much depth. If it’s not Jordan [Spieth], it’s Justin [Thomas]. If it’s not Justin, it’s Brooks [Koepka]. If it’s not Brooks, it’s Patrick [Reed]. If it’s not Patrick, it’s Dustin [Johnson]. There are so many great players, and it just seems like, at this point in time, they’re all playing really good golf at the same time.

“It’s going to be tough. It’s going to be tough to beat them this week. It’s going to be tough to beat them in France. And that’s just the way it is.

“Europeans had their nice little run a few years ago, and I just think these things work in cycles. Right now all these guys are playing really good golf, and they’re some of the best players in the world and deservedly so, and they’re going to take some beating.”

McIlroy also expressed his admiration for this week’s defending champion, Spieth, both on and off the course, and admitted his name is the one he looks out for on a leaderboard above all others.

“I was going to say a better person than he is a golfer, but that sounds like I’m discrediting him,” McIlroy added. “But he’s a wonderful person, or just as good a person as he is a golfer, I guess, because he’s obviously one of the best players in the world and one of the best players that’s come out over the last few years.

“But I think his upbringing, his mum and dad, his siblings, just everything about him is pure class. I’ve gotten to know Jordan a little bit more over the past couple of years, and our partners have got pretty close, Annie and Erica.

“So we spent a little bit more time together, and the more you get to know him, the more you realise he is the real deal on and off the golf course.

“He’s had a fantastic start to his career, and he’s probably the one guy that, whenever I see him on the board, I look out for more than the rest because it doesn’t matter what he does, where he hits it, he’s so tenacious, and he gets it done.

“You look at Birkdale last year, and coming back from what happened at Augusta the year previous, he’s got a lot of fortitude. He’s a great golfer and a great person.”