Rory McIlroy not worried by unfamiliar challenge at US Open

Rory McIlroy not worried by unfamiliar challenge at US Open

Rory McIlroy played 81 holes of practice ahead of the Masters and is a member of the club which hosted the US PGA Championship.

But after missing the cut at Augusta National and finding local knowledge could not make up for a misfiring long game at Oak Hill, McIlroy will go back to basics for the 123rd US Open.

Los Angeles Country Club will stage the year’s third major championship and McIlroy is part of the vast majority of the field to never play the course before, although the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa were part of the winning Walker Cup team there in 2017.

“I have not played there yet,” McIlroy confirmed during his title defence at the RBC Canadian Open. “I’ll first lay eyes on it on when I get to LA.

“I’ve watched some videos on YouTube. I sort of know the look of the course and the topography a little bit and sort of what to expect. But you don’t get a real grasp of it until you’re actually out there and your feet are on the ground.”

McIlroy’s extensive practice ahead of the Masters came despite the year’s first major being the only one played on the same course, a course on which he has competed every year since 2009.

“Don’t worry, I was telling myself that for the two weeks afterwards,” the four-time major winner said with a wry smile.

“I’m like, ‘Why do I spend so much time here?’. I know it like the back of my hand. It’s the one course we play from memory, rather than what’s just right in front of us.

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the sixth hole during the third round of the RBC Canadian Open (Andrew Lahodynskyj/The Canadian Press via AP)

“And from my experience I play better when I just react to what’s in front of me, instead of playing by memory. Sometimes it’s nice playing courses a little blind.

“I really like playing the week before a major. There’s no better way to get sharp for a golf tournament than to play a golf tournament, I think.

“I’ve done it both ways. I’ve won majors not doing it and won majors doing it. But my favourite two weeks of the year were always Akron (for the Bridgestone Invitational), US PGA.

“I felt like Akron was a great tournament, but it also got you prepared for what you were going to face the next week. So I love those sorts of stretches.”