Rory prepared to triumph again - his way

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Rory McIlroy steadfastly defended his low-key Open Championship preparations.

The reigning US Open champion visited Royal St George's last week, missed last week's rain-affected Scottish Open and played nine holes with his dad at Royal County Down last night.

He smiled: "After what happened in Scotland, I'm quite relieved I decided to give it a miss!

"I've prepared the same way for the majors I have for the last few years - getting to the course on the Tuesday afternoon - and it works for me."

The Northern Irishman is understandably upbeat about his chances this week although he is acutely aware of the pressure and expectations on him following his resounding victory at Congressional.

But he's not worried in the slightest and is clearly revelling in his time in the spotlight. "I like the buzz and the atmosphere created by the big crowds and galleries.

"I enjoy it and over the past few years that's something I've had to live with and get used to.

"Winning the US Open has lifted a huge weight from my shoulders," he admitted. "Unlike other players, I now don't have to talk about breaking my majors duck but to discuss winning my second one... and that's what I'm focusing on.

"And that's a nice pressure to have had removed."