Rory McIlroy: Course is tough but US Open won’t descend into ‘goofy golf’

2011 winner says ‘awesome’ Winged Foot is hard but fair

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 9:53 pm
Rory McIlroy is paying his first visit to Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck. Picture: John Minchillo/AP

It’s been love at first sight for Rory McIlroy at Winged Foot and the 2011 winner is confident that “goofy golf” will not be a feature in the 120th US Open.

Justin Thomas, a fellow major champion, said he believes the Mamaroneck course has the potential to make the world’s best players “look pretty bad” in this week’s rescheduled event.

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McIlroy, who is paying his first visit, agreed that it will provide a tough test but, at the same time, he reckons good golf will be rewarded. “It’s awesome,” said the four-time major winner of the A W Tillinghast-designed course that was renovated by Gil Hanse five years ago. “Played 18 holes yesterday and loved what I saw. It’s hard, obviously, but I think it’s very, very fair.

“I said to someone yesterday when I played Oakmont for the first time, my initial reaction was, ‘this place is impossible’, but this course doesn’t feel quite as... It gives you a little more chances if you miss it, I guess.

“Something would have to go seriously wrong to get into the realms of goofy golf. I think good shots here seem to get rewarded. Oakmont is a wonderful golf course, but I think Oakmont set up normally is right about on the edge, and, if you just go a little further, then that can start to get a little goofy, where here it doesn’t seem like that can happen. Certainly if you get it way too firm and you get some crosswinds and stuff, it can get pretty dicey but, from what I’ve seen yesterday and today, I expect that not to happen. It’s cooler temperatures. I’m sure the course can get pretty firm, but it’s a little different in September than it usually is in June, as well, I guess.”

McIlroy, who recently became a dad for the first time and has been on nappy-changing duties for new daughter Poppy at home in Florida, is targeting a fast start as he bids to land a first major since the 2014 US PGA Championship.

“If you’ve looked at my major championship performances over the last few years, I’ve just gotten off to slow starts,” said the Northern Irishman. “I probably just put a little too much pressure on myself going into tournaments.

“From there, shooting a bad score on the first day and putting yourself under even more pressure, from there to just make it to the weekend, and then to try to play catch-up, I think that’s been the big thing.

“When I start tournaments well, I seem to stay up there. I started Pebble (Beach) last year with a nice score and stayed up there for the most part, (although) I didn’t quite finish the week the way I wanted to. But that’s been the big thing for me. If I can start and put a good solid round together on a Thursday, I’m usually right there.”

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