British Open 2011: Why Rory McIlroy Is Going to Win at Royal St. George's

Jeff Cohn@jeff_cohnCorrespondent IIIJuly 13, 2011

McIlroy after his win at the U.S. Open
McIlroy after his win at the U.S. OpenPeter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

The Open Championships will be played at Royal St. George's this year instead of St. Andrews.

As the event comes nearer to the first tee-off, spectators, fans and sports announcers alike are specifically talking about two things: Tiger Woods not playing in the tournament and Rory McIlroy potentially winning his second consecutive Major.

With Tiger out of the competition for now, the chances and probability that Rory will win should go up. However, we have seen him fail to deal properly with pressure and expectation several times in the past, whether it be earning his first Major or trying to stay in the lead over the course of four days.

This will be the first tournament that McIlroy will play with a Major under his belt since he has not been in competition since winning the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Maryland.

He took the world by storm in the Augusta Masters by playing sublime golf, only to succumb to the pressure during the nine holes prior to the fourth day's finish line.

He had a burden on his shoulder: the idea of winning a Major. The man from Northern Ireland broke several records during the U.S. Open, though, winning the title by eight strokes with a 16-under(-par) finish.

McIlroy consistently sets himself up for birdies and pars and is a routine shot maker. His golf swing is viewed by some as the most technically sound and perfectly engineered since Tiger Woods'.

Also, keep in mind that McIlroy is only 22 years of age and is already earning such compliments and accolades by his fellow golfers.

Graeme McDowell, the winner of last year's U.S. Open and fellow countryman of Rory, said,

"It's demoralizing...He can do things to a golf ball that I can't. That almost no one else can. He can fly it 340 down the middle then land a three-iron as soft as a butterfly with blisters. Golf is hard for the rest of us. It's a struggle. He makes the game look so easy, it's a joke," according to Alan Shipnuck, the senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

After all of his peers admire his abilities, some may wonder what Rory McIlroy has to say about himself.

In this exclusive interview with BBC Sport, he admitted that he believes in himself to be the next big thing and to be able to execute winning performances to overcome challenges.

Rory has also adopted a more arrogant and relentless attitude on the golf course, which helps him to stay in the lead and make crucial shots in times of difficulty.

After all, the links golf course at Royal St. George's is extremely tough to navigate. The unpredictable weather consisting of rain, wind and sunlight at any time makes the event that much more difficult to complete with a top-10 finish, let alone even make the cut.

But, Rory is someone special and capable of winning on a challenging course above his competition. It seems unlikely that he will crack as badly as he did at the Masters, as well as it seems unlikely that he would finish 16 under (par) again.

If it comes to a final and decisive day, where Rory is paired with and has to play very closely and tightly against someone such as Luke Donald, he has to remember that the pressure is off his shoulders and that things will most likely go his way.

Both of these players claim to feel less pressure than usual since they are both playing at home. Nevertheless, Donald is the only player with three wins this year while Rory is projected to win back-to-back Grand Slams, so pressure should, in fact, be playing a larger role than in the past.

Lee Westwood could also win his first Major this week, so Rory has to make sure to create enough distance for himself at the top of the leaderboard.

Winning consecutive Majors is impossible for most golfers, as the level of consistency needed to maintain success isn't possessed by many of them.

With the 22-year-old star, we have belief in him finishing on top at the completion of the Open, and we haven't felt this confident about picking a winner in golf since Tiger Woods stepped on the scene.

Many have called Rory McIlroy the next Grand Slam winner, and he will prove that thought to be true by earning another Major this week. 

Rory started out with a lead in the first round of last year's British Open, but don't expect him to fall behind this time.