Golfer Rory McIlroy gets away from hype machine | British Open
Compared with last year, Rory McIlroy is preparing for the British Open in relative peace.
The Associated Press
First round, 1:30 a.m., ESPN
LYTHAM ST. ANNES, England — Rory McIlroy went to dinner a few nights ago at one of this English city's finer restaurants. He got to enjoy his meal in relative peace, with a mere handful of fans pestering him for a picture.
Hard to imagine that happening in the approach to last year's British Open, when Rorymania was at its peak.
The 23-year-old golfer from Northern Ireland likes low key a lot better.
"It's been lovely just going about my business," said McIlroy, who is ranked second in the world, behind Luke Donald of England. "It's been nice to sort of prepare, and there's definitely not the madness that was going on last year."
Back then, McIlroy was coming off his first major victory — an eight-stroke romp at the U.S. Open — and being heralded as the new face of a sport desperate to move past Tiger Woods' downfall.
McIlroy didn't handle the hype well, tying for 25th place at Royal St. George's and complaining about the conditions.
In what passes for heresy in these parts, he said, "I'm not a fan of golf tournaments where the outcome is dictated so much by the weather."
McIlroy added, "It's not my sort of golf. I'd rather play when it's 80 degrees and sunny and not much wind."
Looking back, McIlroy realizes he should have held his tongue.
"Those comments were just pure frustration," he said. "It was having really high expectations going into it, coming off a major win and really wanting to play well, get into contention and not doing that."
McIlroy begins his first round at 6:21 a.m. PDT Thursday. Some players tee off before midnight PDT Wednesday.
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