In 2011 Rory McIlroy won the US Open on Father’s Day. He’d like to do it again this week.
‘I remember walking down 18 at Congressional (Country Club) and seeing (my dad) on the left side, I caught a glimpse of him as I was getting up to the green. That night we celebrated together.
‘He’s been at every US Open since and I haven’t been able to deliver that present to him again, so hopefully I can do it this week,’ said the four-time major champion.
For a fortnight McIlroy has been gearing up to play Oakmont Country Club, host of this week’s 116th championship. From Thursday it will come down to executing the plan.
‘You have to be so disciplined. One of the real challenges is that it’s a big, wide, open space now. There isn’t a whole lot of definition out there and you have to be so zoned in,’ said the Ulsterman.
‘The majors I’ve won have been at soft courses and under par. To be able to win on a course like this would probably be my biggest accomplishment in the game.’
In May the world number three roared down the stretch at The K Club to win the Irish Open, his first title of 2016. He’s missed one cut in 12 starts worldwide this year, leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained: off-the-tee, and is fourth in strokes gained: tee-to-green.
Oakmont places a premium on ball striking and avoiding the rough will be crucial to McIlroy’s title bid. More than that, however, is the mental challenge that every US Open presents.
‘You’ll be put under a lot of pressure on basically every single golf shot,’ said the 27-year-old. ‘You have to be prepared for how mentally demanding it’s going to be, for how much concentration you need out there. It’s going to be quite the grind, but you expect that – it’s the toughest test in golf.’
Five years ago McIlroy won as a cherub-faced youngster who blew away the field, but this year he’ll need a gritty performance to succeed.
‘I feel like a more disciplined and experienced player than a few years ago, and I can see nothing but a benefit to that. I’m coming off a decent stretch of golf, I feel confident, and know what I need to do,’ he said.