Rory McIlroy is ready to break the American stranglehold by ending his four-year wait for a fifth major golf title at Carnoustie.
The previous five major championships have been won by American golfers ahead of The Open getting under way at Carnoustie today.
Former world number one McIlroy has displayed plenty of form this season with a victory at the Arnold Palmer invitational event followed by a top-five finish at the Masters.
He missed the cut at last month’s US Open but has happy memories from his Open debut at Carnoustie in 2007 when he won the Silver Medal as low amateur.
He said: “The Americans dominating the individual tournaments gives them confidence going into the Ryder Cup.
“Two American players could win the next two majors and Europe could win the Ryder Cup.
“They have so much depth. If it’s not Jordan Spieth, it’s Justin Thomas. If it’s not Justin, it’s Brooks Koepka. If it’s not Brooks, it’s Patrick Reed. If it’s not Patrick, it’s Dustin Johnson. There are so many great players and it just seems like they’re all playing really good golf at the same time.
“It’s going to be tough to beat them this week and tough to beat them in France.
“The Europeans had their nice little run a few years ago and I just think these things work in cycles.
“Right now all these guys are playing really good golf. They’re going to take some beating.”
The Open returns to Northern Ireland next year for the first time since 1951 when Royal Portrush hosts the tournament, which has provided McIlroy with additional motivation for the week ahead.
McIlroy said: “If I were to head to Portrush with a Claret Jug in my possession, I’d obviously be very happy and very proud to be the defending champion at a golf course I know very well and playing in front of home fans.
“If it all worked out like that this week, I’d be one very happy man heading out of here.”
Scotland’s Sandy Lyle has the honour of getting play under way at 6.35am and the 1985 champion believes his game remains strong enough to be competitive this week.
The 60-year-old said: “It would be great to perform well. Tom Watson is in the back of my mind and what he achieved by finishing runner-up at Turnberry in 2009 at the age of 59. That was amazing.
“It gave me a lot of grief from my dear wife as she was saying, ‘see what age he is, almost 60.”
“We’ve also got Bernhard Langer, who is shooting 68s week in, week out. If you’re a betting man for top 10 or whatever I think he’d be quite good money.”