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Rory McIlroy a huge danger to his rivals at the Open says Justin Rose

Rory McIlroy has missed three of the last four cuts but Justin Rose still sees him as a huge threat at the Open at Royal Birkdale this week
Phil Casey, PA Sport

RORY McIlroy could prove the doubters wrong and emerge from his “slump” at any time, according to Olympic champion Justin Rose.

McIlroy comes into this week’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale on the back of three missed cuts in his last four events, including the defence of his Irish Open title and US Open.

That means the world number four, who has twice been sidelined by a rib injury this season, has played just 10 competitive rounds since mid-May.

But Rose, who was out of action for eight weeks with a back problem shortly after claiming Olympic gold in Rio last year, believes McIlroy is more than capable of producing a special performance out of the blue.

“The one thing about Rory is as soon as you question him, he’ll do something special and turn it all around,” Rose said.

“It’s happened a few times in his career where people say he’s in a bit of a slump and then he’ll win the FedEx Cup. So never worry about him from that point of view.”

Speaking about the injury which 2014 Open champion McIlroy sustained during extensive equipment testing over the winter, Rose added: “I think sometimes when you’re actually in the middle of the injury itself, it’s not that frustrating because you have a process.’’

PADRAIG Harrington is refusing to rule out another “fairytale” Open Championship victory at the scene of his second consecutive victory.

Harrington defeated current Masters champion Sergio Garcia in a play-off to lift the Claret Jug for the first time at Carnoustie in 2007, albeit only after making a double bogey on the 72nd hole.

But he won in style the following year at Royal Birkdale, firing an eagle on the 17th hole in the final round on his way to becoming the first European to win back-to-back titles since James Braid in 1906.

And after returning to Birkdale on the back of a tie for fourth in the Scottish Open on Sunday, the 45-year-old Dubliner deserves to be considered a legitimate contender for a fourth Major title.

“The way I did it in 2008 is how you would you dream of winning a Major as a 15-year-old kid,” Harrington said.

“Everything went right. I did everything nice and beautiful, swung the club well, (played in the) last group, all the little things.

“The way I won at Carnoustie, I don’t think as a 15-year-old you’re going to dream of double-bogeying the last with a one-shot lead as your dream way of winning the Open.

“They’re all wins and you’ve got to take them when you get them. In my career I’ve seen some good wins and some bad wins and sometimes the difficult ones, the ones that you possibly shouldn’t have got, are the most fun.

“But to believe that there’s a certain perfection to winning is very naive. It’s very rare that it’s beautiful and perfect. It’s normally a little bit ragged and you just have to make the most of it.

“It’s dreaming, fairytale stuff to think it should go that way, but it did in 2008 for me.”

Harrington would be the second oldest winner of the Open – behind Old Tom Morris in 1867 – if he can triumph at Birkdale again and certainly is not lacking in confidence.

“I will always go back to the Shane Lowry quote, that I think I’m going to win in weeks I’m not even playing,” Harrington joked.

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