McIlroy gets in early Birkdale prep after missed cuts

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SOUTHPORT, England – An early exit from the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open didn't have much upside, but at least it afforded Rory McIlroy an opportunity to get in some extra prep for The Open.

McIlroy went straight from Dundonald to Royal Birkdale, playing practice rounds on both Saturday and Sunday. After missing the cut in two straight events and three of his last four dating back to the U.S. Open, McIlroy has spent much of his practice time adjusting his alignment and ball position, both of which he felt had become an issue after two weeks in blustery conditions.

"That's the tricky part about playing in the wind leading up to this event," McIlroy said. "You run the risk of getting into a couple of bad habits just because of trying to keep the ball down, and you start to get into a few little tendencies that you usually don't get into. That's what we're trying to iron out at the minute."

McIlroy specifically pointed to his wedge game, which he described as "not very good" over his last two starts. While he played Birkdale in the 2005 British Amateur, after 36 holes of practice he anticipates that the tight links layout will keep his driver in the bag until the 13th hole each round.

McIlroy has now missed back-to-back cuts for the first time since enduring early exits at both the BMW PGA Championship and Irish Open back in May 2015. While his recent results have dried up outside of a final-round 64 at the Travelers Championship, the 2014 Open champion remains optimistic heading into one of the biggest events of the year.

"If I had been out there shooting 77s and 78s, I'd be really worried. But I'm not," McIlroy said. "I shot 1 under on Friday. It could have been a little better, but it's not far away. It's all around even par, but even par these days is not good enough. I feel like the line between shooting these scores of even par and getting to 4, 5, 6 under par in a day, the margins are so fine. So it's about staying patient and working on the right things.

"I feel like everything's there to go out and shoot those scores, it's just a matter of doing it and getting the confidence and the feedback from that. Hopefully that happens this week, sooner rather than later."