Golf: Rory McIlroy hits road on quest for second Claret Jug

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with his caddie during the first round on July 13, 2017.
Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy with his caddie during the first round on July 13, 2017.PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Rory McIlroy and his new wife Erica have embarked on a three-week golfing and sightseeing "road trip" hoping to return to Northern Ireland at the end of it with a second Claret Jug.

The McIlroys took fellow passengers by surprise when they drove onto Monday morning's Belfast to Cairnryan ferry on their way to Scotland.

The newly-weds took to wheels instead of wings after McIlroy promised American-born Erica a trip to England's picturesque Cotswolds region after next week's Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on the north-west coast.

But the first stop for the 28-year-old is this week's Scottish Open at Dundonald near Irvine in Ayrshire.

It is the first time McIlroy has contested the event since shooting a Royal Aberdeen course-record 64 on day one of the 2014 Scottish Open and a week later heading south to lift the Claret Jug at Hoylake.

"It is nice to have the car and throw everything in the back," he said. "So, we're actually taking a bit of a road trip after Birkdale as Erica already likes the British landscape.

"After The Open I have a day in London with Nike and we are going to visit the Cotswolds."

Among his belongings are a number of different putters, as he tries to iron out the biggest problem area of his game - evidenced by recording 33 putts each day in missing the cut at last week's the Irish Open.

"I need to focus more on my routine and how I approach a putt," admitted the four-time Major champion. "But I think it's fair to say I'm trying to stay patient but it's proving difficult. It always has been. Because you know, look, I feel like I am good enough to win these tournaments, and I've shown that before."