World Number 3 Rory McIlroy feels trepidation rather than excitement over the tough challenge posed by Oakmont Country Club this week for the US Open
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy enters the US Open this week at Oakmont Country Club feeling the relentless pressure of the challenge posed by the host venue.
“Excitement is a good way to describe Augusta, but this week it’s definitely not excitement, McIlroy said. “It’s trepidation I guess. You know you’re going to be put under a lot of pressure on every single golf shot you hit. So you have to be prepared for how mentally demanding it’s going to be, how much concentration you’re going to need out there.”
Much of the talk this week is about the difficulty of the Oakmont golf course, especially since numerous players have been posting images and videos on social media highlighting the thickness of the rough and the lightning fast greens. But for McIlroy, the challenge lies more in picking targets.
“I think one of the real challenges about this golf course, especially after they’ve taken so many trees away, is it’s a big, wide open space now, and you’re hitting into these tight fairways. There’s not really a whole lot of definition out there, so you have to be so zoned in to where you want your targets to be. You could go a whole round here without hitting it at any pin, just trust that where you’re hitting it into the spots that yourself the best chance of making par. I’d much rather have a 30-foot putt up the hill on these greens than an 8-footer down the hill.”
McIlroy is a former winner of the event, claiming a record eight-shot victory at Congressional Country Club in 2011. Despite this and many other emphatic wins during his career, a win this week would be his best yet.
“I’d be very proud if I won on a golf course like this. The Majors that I have won have been soft and under par and more suits my style of game. But to be able to win on a course like this with the conditions the way they are, it would probably be my biggest accomplishment in the game. It would definitely make me feel like a more complete player.”
Much of the talk has been on some of the length holes listed on the scorecard at Oakmont, especially the 288-yard par three eighth hole, but with McIlroy’s length it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
“Over the four times I’ve played it, I’ve hit anything from a 3 wood to a 4 iron. It was a little soft on last Tuesday after a thunderstorm so I hit a 3 wood and carried it on to the middle of the green. And then yesterday, it was downwind and I hit a 4 iron to the back portion of the green. So it really depends. I think one of the things about this golf course is what the yardage says on the tee, it doesn’t play anything like that.”
One of McIlroy’s greatest strengths is his distance and accuracy off the tee with the driver but this is a club the world number 3 won’t be calling upon too often.
“I don’t think there’s going to be many drivers out there this week. Maybe the two par 5s I’ll hit driver, the 7th hole too. If the 2nd hole is downwind, I can hit driver there and try to hit it up on the green. I’ll hit 2 iron off the tee much more than I’ll hit driver.”
Rory McIlroy tees off at 8.24am local time on Thursday with Masters champion Danny Willett and good friend Rickie Fowler.