British Open 2023: Attention Centers on McIlroy as Tournament Returns to Royal Liverpool

by Andrew Wright
British Open 2023

A swarm of players descended upon Augusta National, their sights set high for the major championship season. In the 105-day span from the commencement of the Masters to the British Open, much of this aspiration has gradually succumbed to a touch of desperation.

The British Open, making its third visit to Royal Liverpool in the past 17 years, stands as this year’s final opportunity to claim a major championship.

“This is the last major for eight or nine months, and the future is uncertain,” commented Adam Scott, his statement veiled with dry humor, alluding to the tumultuous circumstances in golf resulting from the clash and eventual partnership with the Saudi-financed LIV Golf.

“Time indeed flies, particularly with the shift in our schedule,” Scott continued. “Now, this event is our ‘Last Shot at Glory.’ Although that phrase doesn’t quite fit for The Open Championship, it does hold some truth.”

Rory McIlroy requires no reminder of this fact.

The wound from his performance at last month’s U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club is still fresh, where he fell short by a single stroke in the final round’s back nine, failing to surpass Wyndham Clark. An even fresher memory could be the sensation of standing on links terrain and recalling the previous year at St. Andrews. There, he jointly led the 54-hole, only to see Cameron Smith outperform him and lift the coveted silver claret jug.

From the 2011 U.S. Open through to the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, McIlroy triumphed in four of 15 majors, but has not managed to add another since then. Despite his tremendous skill, this stands as a noteworthy dry spell. Nonetheless, he has secured 18 worldwide victories since his last major win.

Adding to this narrative, McIlroy clinched his British Open victory in 2014 at Royal Liverpool. With the prospect of intermittent showers throughout the week, anticipation for his performance is escalating.

“I’m as close as I’ve ever been, really,” McIlroy shared at the Scottish Open, his warmup for the year’s final major. He enters the final round at The Renaissance Club with a one-shot lead.

“My performances have been far more consistent, especially in the majors over the last couple of years, compared to previous years,” he noted. “I’m quite satisfied with that. However, having had strong chances at St. Andrews and recently in LA, I need to keep placing myself in these positions.

Despite my lack of victories, the experience will prove valuable whenever I find myself in a similar situation again.”

Scottie Scheffler, currently the world’s No. 1 player, has displayed unparalleled consistency – earning two victories, including The Players Championship, and securing top-5 finishes in six consecutive tournaments. He, too, has had a chance to win the last two majors.

This tournament represents his last shot at a major this year, just like other players still vying for their first victory, including Patrick Cantlay, Xander Schauffele, Viktor Hovland, and Rickie Fowler.

However, the focus at Royal Liverpool starts with one individual: McIlroy. Padraig Harrington aptly labeled him a “person of interest” at the 151st British Open.

“He has two things in his favor – he has the potential to win any week, and he’s returning to a course where he’s had success and feels at ease,” Harrington noted. “There’s no denying that almost everyone will be checking the leaderboard to see how he’s faring.”

This is the 13th time that the British Open is being held at Royal Liverpool, a location that was absent from the rotation from Roberto de Vicenzo’s victory in 1967 until Tiger Woods won in 2006.

The two most recent champions highlight the unpredictable weather along England’s northwestern coastline. The 2006 championship, won by Woods, was characterized by a brown, dry course, while McIlroy’s 2014 victory was marked by a sufficiently damp course that initiated a two-tee start for the first time in the tournament’s history during the third round.

Scheffler, who began playing links golf only in 2021 at Royal St. George’s, observed the contrasting conditions during the last two Opens at Hoylake.

“I got to witness both extremes,” he stated. “One was incredibly firm, while the other was soft.”

Even as the players started to arrive, Hoylake revealed its varied summer weather. A scorching morning sun gave way to blinding rain in the early afternoon, followed by a blend of sun, rain, and clouds – all before the evening meal.

Royal Liverpool has also seen changes. The course layout, for instance, has been altered. Previously, players encountered a 161-yard par 3 that led back towards the clubhouse, followed by a par 5 towards the town, a lengthy par 4 towards the Irish Sea, and a final par 5 where McIlroy hit an impressive 5-iron in the third round for an eagle that set him five shots ahead.

Now, the 15th hole is a 620-yard par 5 that leads towards the town, the 16th remains a par 4, the 17th has been changed to a 131-yard par 3 leading towards the Dee Estuary, and the 18th is a lengthier par 5 stretching 609 yards. The course’s par score has been reduced to 71.

Regardless of the par score, the lowest tally prevails, and that’s all that matters to McIlroy. After his near miss at the U.S. Open, he famously said, “I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”

In addition to being the final major of the year, the tournament is the last chance for American players in the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league to make a case for the Ryder Cup.

Brooks Koepka has nearly secured one of the six automatic spots, courtesy of his runner-up finish at the Masters and his victory in the PGA Championship, his fifth major.

Dustin Johnson would need to win to have any chance of earning one of the six qualifying spots for the U.S. team. Qualifying ends after the BMW Championship on August 20, though a strong performance might earn him consideration for a captain’s pick.

The tournament kicks off on Thursday, and for McIlroy, the key is patience.

“It’s a journey to get yourself into contention, and to be there on Sunday afternoon, and there’s a lot of golf shots to be hit and a lot of golf to be played,” he noted. “The worst thing you can do in this game is get ahead of yourself.”

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about British Open 2023

Where is the British Open 2023 being held?

The British Open 2023 is being held at Royal Liverpool, marking its third time hosting the tournament in the last 17 years.

Who is expected to be a prominent player in the British Open 2023?

Rory McIlroy is a highly anticipated player in the British Open 2023, especially given his history of winning the tournament at the same location in 2014.

When was the last time Rory McIlroy won a major?

Rory McIlroy last won a major in 2014 at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Who is the current world’s No. 1 player as of the British Open 2023?

Scottie Scheffler is the world’s No. 1 player at the time of the British Open 2023.

What changes have been made to the Royal Liverpool course?

The Royal Liverpool course has been altered since it last hosted the tournament. Now, the 15th is a 620-yard par 5, the 16th remains a par 4, the 17th is a 131-yard par 3, and the 18th is a 609-yard par 5. The par has been lowered to 71.

More about British Open 2023

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GolfLover91 July 16, 2023 - 4:50 am

wow mciIroy back at Royal Liverpool!! can’t wait to see how this plays out, the 2014 win was epic!! who’s else is pumped up??!

JustGolfingAround July 16, 2023 - 10:46 am

the pressure must be intense for Rory, gotta hand it to the guy. Can he do it again, that’s the question… no pressure, Rory! 😉

LinksAddict July 16, 2023 - 4:07 pm

Royal Liverpool has changed, huh? Excited to see how that 620-yard par 5 is gonna play out. Bring on the Open!

Derek_Smith July 16, 2023 - 7:15 pm

Scheffler’s on fire this year, but I’m secretly rooting for McIlroy… Those memories from 2014, they don’t fade.

SunnyGolfer July 16, 2023 - 7:39 pm

Weather’s gonna be a big factor, just like last time. Hoping for a good match despite the showers.


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