There is also the hair. I don't think he went out to physically intimidate people, unless he felt he had to, and there were not many who could hold a candle to him, but he was doing his job and that was not just... "We live and we learn".
Carnoustie looks considerably different, too.
The hot summer has left the fairways hard and dry and with the wind direction appearing to be in favour of golf's bombers, McIlroy believes sheer power can negate some of Carnoustie's viscous defences.
"The amount of gorse bushes they've taken away from this golf course since 2007. the fairways are not generous, but you've got another 5 or 10 yards on each side where it's OK, " McIlroy said. But a links-style golf course, you can roll the ball.
If there's any added pressure at this Open, though, it's because next year the tournament moves to Royal Portrush in McIlroy's native Northern Ireland, where he would like nothing better than to play as the defending champion.
That happened in 2015 at St. Andrews, where much of the third round was delayed due to windy conditions; balls would not stop rolling on greens. This is his 10th appearance, and he expects to see all manner of strategies in play. You start to feel a little bit more comfortable with a few shots, and you might start to take some on.
"I feel I've got a better understanding of my game and it's coming with a little more experience".
BAGGS: 12 under. We aren't going to see the same kind of weather we have previously witnessed at Carnoustie, and that's a shame.
For example. Players such as Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka have suggested they will hit numerous drivers in attempt to blow tee shots over troublesome bunkers and take their chances with rough that is not almost as penal as expected. He seems intent on hitting irons short of trouble, and then trying to control iron shots from there.
"I'll never forget hitting the first tee shot and being as young as I was, getting up there, and it was 308, " Reed said. "The bunkers here are truly a water hazard". While there isn't as much of a premium placed on putting this week because of slower greens, he may still have to hit it close.
The young quartet of major holders Spieth, Koepka, Patrick Reed (Masters) and Justin Thomas (PGA Championship) are expected to be in contention as they look to extend the United States winning run to six majors. Two or three smooth swings and a couple of putts - he could even afford a double-bogey six - would achieve his lifelong ambition and make him only the second Frenchman ever to win golf's oldest major after Arnaud Massey in 1907. There is a reason Koepka and Johnson were the penultimate pairing and finished first and third, respectively, at last month's U.S. Open.
This was the McIlroy who said, when he was asked how he managed to shape the ball so well: "I just think draw and I hit draw, I see it in my head and then I just hit the shot". He knows more about it than I do, so I'll stick with his number. "Just, "This is where I want to hit it, and this is where I want to go".