Rory McIlroy wants to make a habit of winning majors. Picture Fran Caffrey/www.golffile.ieRory McIlroy insists that he wants to win the career Grand Slam not just once but multiple times.

And that’s why he’s fully focussed on adding to his major haul as he heads Ireland’s Big Four at Sandwich this week.

With the US Open trophy on his mantelpiece, the Holywood star wants to take another step towards golfing immortality by winning the Open.

Focussed on his goals, McIlroy said: “You always have to set yourself new goals in this game and my next goal is to win the Open this week and then look to winning the other two majors.

“I want to win career Grand Slam and once you do that you want to go out and win it again. It’s very important to set yourself new goals.”

Ireland has never had a stronger Open challenge with US Open champions McIlroy and Graeme McDowell joined by double Open winner Padraig Harrington and two-time World Golf Championship victor Darren Clarke.

But while all eyes are on McIlroy, the Ulsterman believes he can put Rory-mania aside and concentrate on winning back to back majors.

Rory said: “I am here to win the Open championship. I am not here as the US Open champion.

“I am here as a golfer and I am trying to win this tournament this week. That’s all I can do.

“If I can keep that mindset for the four days I feel as if mentally, I will have done all I could do.

“The most important thing to me is my golf and as long as I can take care of that and give myself the best chance to win every tournament I play, that’s all I can do.

“I really can’t think about anything else or think about what other people are saying or making comparisons or expectations.

“I just have to concentrate on playing 72 holes and keeping myself in the present and keeping my mind on the job at hand.”

McIlroy is the meat in an Irish “Grand Slam Open sandwich”. He’s the smallest man in a “Big Four” that includes Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

And Sweden’s Henrik Stenson reckons he’s got a great chance of landing the Claret Jug on Sunday night if he plays like he’s got nothing to lose.

Stenson said: “I’d go for Rory. He’s on a good run and I think he should be very pleased with his performance at the US Open.

“Bouncing back that quickly after Augusta was very pleasing to see and very strongly done as well. He should really feel as if he has nothing to lose.

“Sometimes winning a major, external expectations might put you in a tough position. But he should be in for a good week.”

So high are Irish hopes at the Open that Stenson quickly realised that all four contenders have a chance.

The Swede said to a grin: “Rory is my pick but then again it should suit Darren and Graeme with their ball flight and being used to the links conditions.

“And Padraig won two British Opens as well, so I don’t know, I am back to where I started. Can I change my answer?”

McIlroy is still the 8/1 favourite to become the youngest Open winner since Willie Auchterlonie in 1893.

And Stenson believes that the youngster will feel bulletproof after his demolition of the field at Congressional last month.

He said: “When you are playing well and have won big tournaments it gives you that self-confidence that you can beat anybody really.

“It is a nice feeling and if you have the time to focus and keep your game in good shape, you should be up there really.”


Ireland’s Big Four for Sandwich


Age: 42.

World ranking: 111  

Major wins: 0

Career pro wins: 21. Most recent win - Iberdrola Open 2011).

2011: 14 tournaments, missed three cuts. Best: 1 - Iberdrola Open. Other Top Ten: 8 - Volvo Golf Champions. Biggest cheque: €166,660 in Iberdrola Open. Season’s earnings: €304,387.

Career biggest cheque: €1,015,228 for Accenture World Match Play in 2000.

Open record: 1991 - T64, 1992 - M/C, 1993 - T39, 1994 - T38, 1995 - T31, 1996 - T11, 1997 - T2, 1998 - M/C, 1999 - T30, 2000 - T7, 2001 - T3, 2002 - T37, 2003 - T59, 2004 - T11, 2005 - T15, 2006 - M/C, 2007 - M/C, 2008 - Did not play, 2009 - T52, 2010 - T44.  


Age: 39.

World ranking: 57

Major wins: 3 - The Open 2007, 2008; US PGA 2008

Career pro wins: 26 (14 on European Tour and two on PGA Tour; Most recent win - Iskandar Johor Open, August 2008).

2011: 16 tournaments, 8 on European Tour, 8 on PGA Tour, missed cut in Masters, Players Championship and Volvo China Open. Best: 8 - Houston Open, 9 Wells Fargo Championship, 10 -     WGC-Cadillac Championship. Biggest cheque: €112,800 in Houston Open.   

Career biggest cheque: €1,106,618 for British Open in 2007.  

Open record: 1996 - T18, 1997 - T5, 1998 - M/C, 1999 - 29, 2000 - T20, 2001 - T37, 2002 - T5, 2003 - T22, 2004 - M/C, 2005 - Didn’t play, 2006 - M/C, 2007 - Won, 2008 - Won, 2009 - T65, 2010 - M/C.


Age: 31.

World ranking: 9.

Major wins: 1 - US Open 2010

Career pro wins: 9. Most recent - Chevron World Challenge, 2010.

2011: 15 tournaments, 9 on European Tour, 6 on PGA Tour, missed cut in Masters, Arnold Palmer Invitational, New Orleans Classic and BMW PGA Championship. Best: 3 - Tournament of Champions, Abu Dhabi Championship, 5 - Volvo World Matchplay, 6 - Honda Classic, 9 - Accenture Match Play Championship. Biggest cheque: €291,538 in Tournament of Champions.

Career biggest cheque: €1,123,970 for US Open in 2010.

Open record: 2005 - T11, 2006 - T61, 2007 - Did not play, 2008 - T19, 2009 - T34, 2010 - T23.

RORY McILROY (4th Open)

Age: 22.

World ranking: 4.

Major wins: 1 (US Open 2011)

Career pro wins: 3. Most recent - US Open 2011

2011: 12 tournaments, 9 on European Tour, 3 on PGA Tour, missed cut in Wells Fargo Championship. Best: 1 - US Open. Other Top Tens: 2 - Abu Dhabi, 3 - Malaysian Open, 5 - Memorial Tournament, 9 - Volvo World Match Play Championship, 10 - WGC-Cadillac Championship, Dubai Desert Classic. Biggest cheque: €1,003,414 in US Open, also career biggest.

Open: 2007 - T42 (amateur gold medal), 2008 - Did not play, 2009 - T47, 2010 - T3.