Paul McGinley predicts a heavyweight battle for US Open supremacy at Torrey Pines this weekend but the Ryder Cup-winning captain fears Rory McIlroy may not be part of the mix without his driver issues ironed out.
McGinley knows all about the demands Torrey Pines can place on golfers having played it throughout his time at the University of San Diego. With the rough up in a US Open set-up this week, the Sky Sports analyst believes only one of the very best will prevail.
"It's a heavyweight contest,” McGinley, 54, said from California. “I know this golf course well, this was a home course, even when I played College golf it was a brutal course, it was always difficult and that kikuyu grass, unless you have a lot of power, you can't move it out of it, it takes a lot of power to move out of it. It's really, really difficult.
“In think we’re in for a really good week. The golf course is a difficult one as we know, the rough is up like it is for a US Open and Torrey Pines is a beast of a golf course.
“So I think what we’re going to find here is the best player, one of the best players will find a bit of form and he will win.”
“The back nine is about 60 yards short of being 4000 yards so we’re getting closer to an 8000-yard golf course. If you look at the guys who win here every year at the (Farmers Insurance) Open, even though the rough is not up as much as it’s going to be this week, it’s always the bigger hitters, it’s always the guy who hits a lot of greens in regulation … and who is very high in fairways hit.
“So generally the guys who plays the best. I know that sounds a stupid thing to say but that’s not always the case. I’m expecting to see one of the top 10 in the world find a bit of form this week, play well and win. That’s the kind of test it is here.”
Asked about Irish hopes this week, McGinley suggested he preferred Shane Lowry’s chances over those of McIlroy, whose swing he believes is still a work in progress with new coach Pete Cowen.
“Shane is the one showing the most form in the last month or so. Good to see him coming into form and earning a load of Ryder Cup points and he would be the one to stand out.
“I know Rory will be the obvious one but I think he’s still going through these changes with his golf swing and I don’t know if his game is in the place it needs to be, and although he did win (at the Wells Fargo on May 9) it was very much with his short game that week and it wasn’t his tee to green game that won it.
“Having said that, he’s had two top fives in the last three years around here and again, that’s the style of player, if Rory can find some form and if he gets bedded down with his new swing changes this is a test that will really suit Rory.”
McGinley is sure there will not be a repeat of Phil Mickelson’s heroics at Kiawah Island last month when the American became the oldest winner of a major at the age of 51 and Padraig Harrington, 49, tied for fourth alongside Lowry.
“I don’t think you’re going to see an outsider like we did at the PGA coming through the field because the golf course at Kiawah lent itself to somebody like Phil or Padraig finding a bit of form and using their guile and creativity and being able to compete.
“That’s not the case this week. It’s more of a generic test with not much wind forecast either. It’s just a big generic test of pretty big hitting, hitting as many greens in regulation as you can and putting on these difficult poa annua greens.”
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