Rory quids in for The Open?

Rory McIlroy could be quids in for his first Open win after snatching the money from Darren Clarke in practice at Hoylake.

The Holywood hero got his revenge for 2011 when he was the hot favourite and the reigning US Open champion but lost the practice round money to eventual Claret Jug winner Clarke.

This time Wee Mac, 25,  snatched the £20 bet and it could be a good omen as he chases a £975,000 pay day and a place in history if he wins on Sunday.

“I have beaten an Open champion!” McIlroy said. “We did this in 2011 at St George’s and obviously it worked out pretty well for one of us. You never know - hopefully we will both have a good week.”

Clarke joked: “It’s not the money. It’s giving a youngster, with all that money in the bank, £20 of my hard-earned cash.”

Veteran Clarke reckons the youngster could become the youngest Open winner since Tiger Woods in 2000 - especially if Lady Luck is on his side.

“Rory's obviously one of the best players in the world so you'd never rule him out," Clarke said.

“He's got all the firepower to win, unquestionably, and it's just a question of getting the slightly right bounce or good break on links because you could hit good shots and get punished for them.

"You rarely hit bad shots on links and get away with them and he hits good shots.”

McIlroy would love to add his name to the list of Open champions and rack up the third leg of the career Grand Slam after taking the US Open in 2011 and the US PGA in 2012.

One of the Fab Four favourites in Liverpool alongside Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose, Rory said: “It would be great to put the name on the Claret Jug one day. 

"If I was to win my third Major here, it would be the third leg of a career Grand Slam, as well. 

“Not many golfers have done that, either. So it would be special. It would be very important. 

“Hopefully by the time I hang up my boots, I’ll be able to get my name on that trophy.”

Putting will be key for the world No 8, who has worked hard on becoming comfortable on the greens with some help from putting guru Dave Stockton.

But the Ulster star believes it’s his driving that separates him from the rest and he’ll be using his power to the maximum this week without taking too many risks.

Planning to mix it up with a two-iron, his fairway woods and his driver, he said: "I don't think it's going to be an option to hit iron off every tee box. 

“So I think you're going to have to be slightly aggressive off the tee, and take some things on.

“But I think that the driver is one of the best clubs in my bag and I do hit it well, and when I'm on.

“I can take advantage of that length and make golf courses pretty short for myself. 

“But I'll always try and play the hole the best way I think possible, and whether that's taking driver and taking it over a corner or laying back because I just don't feel comfortable hitting driver.

"You just to make your game plan so that you're comfortable with it and you don't deviate from it."