Rory McIlroy 'excited' to finally defend Canadian Open title after three-year wait

A global pandemic has prevented Rory McIlroy from defending the Canadian Open title he won in 2019, and he is more than happy to be back.

Rory McIlroy said he was 'excited' to finally get to defend the Canadian Open title he won back in 2019.

The event will return this year following a three-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with action set to get underway this week.

Despite the challenge of the LIV Golf Invitational Series, five of the top ten players in the world will be in the field for the PGA event, and McIlroy is hoping to recapture some of the magic he found at the tournament three years ago.

"It's great to be back in Canada, first and foremost," McIlroy said ahead of the event.

"It's obviously been a while since this championship's been played. I think everyone I've spoken to, everyone that I've seen out on the golf course is really excited for the Canadian Open to be back and just for live sporting events in general to be back on in this country.

"I'm excited to be back, excited to finally defend my title from three years ago at Hamilton and yeah, wonderful memories from that week.

"I was playing really well coming into it, got myself in another position after the Saturday night and then just really took advantage of that position on Sunday and went out with the mindset of being aggressive and really trying to take the tournament by the scruff of the neck, I guess, and I was able to do that.

"It was a really fun day, I had a chance to shoot 59 there on the back nine, which was really cool.

"It's not a position you find yourself in very often, so it was just some great memories, some great golf played and certainly one of the highlights of 2019 for me."

It's a different course for Rory McIlroy to master than the one he conquered in 2019.

The Northern Irishman sealed a dominant seven-shot victory at Hamilton, while the 2022 edition will take place at St. George's near Toronto for the first time since 2010.

"[There are] a few similarities to Hamilton in a way," McIlroy explained.

"The greens are probably a little more undulating and slopey here than Hamilton. Probably the golf course in general just has a little more movement to it.

"But I love it, it's a great set-up. It's penal if you miss the fairways, it's thick rough. You have to keep the ball below the hole on the greens. It's a really good golf course.

"I've only played 18 holes, I'll learn a little bit more about it as the week goes on, but you've got to put it in position off the tee and then you just have to be really smart with your second shots.

"You can be too aggressive. I left the ball, not knowing today, above a few of the hole positions and it's hard to get those putts within 10 feet. So it really is about keeping the ball below the hole.

"The guy that does that the best this week is probably going to come out on top."

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