Paul McGinley might believe Rory McIlroy is undercooked for the tilt at the US Open but the world No 2 insists he’s 100% fit and raring to go at Erin Hills.
A rib injury has forced the four-time major champion to miss as many events as he’s played this term — six.
But McIlroy loves the look of 7,693-yard Erin Hills where wide fairways and generous greens will give him the opportunity to be “aggressive” and go on the attack as he bids to win a major for the first time since the 2014 US PGA.
“It’s feeling really good,” McIlroy said of his rib injury.
“It’s been a frustrating year because it has been such a niggling injury.
“It sort of comes and goes but I feel like I have figured out what to do to have it not reoccur again.
“So it is all about managing my practice schedule and not overdoing it and making sure I have plenty of energy to come out on the course and just play.
“So it’s all good. I’m feeling good to be here and excited for the week.”
McIlroy hasn’t hit a shot in competition since he finished tied for 35th, 12 shots behind winner Siwoo Kim, in The Players at Sawgrass a month ago.
He spent some of his downtime practising in Portugal and McGinley fears he may not have the competitive sharpness to trade blows with the likes of 2015 champion Jordan Spieth or defending champion Dustin Johnson, the world No 1.
“You can hit as many golf balls as you like in practice,” McGinley said: “But there is no substitute for playing plenty of rounds in tournament conditions. So Rory’s preparation for this event has been far from ideal.
“It is going to be difficult for him to go toe-to-toe with other top guys who have been playing — and winning — on a regular basis. The US Open is a real battle.”
McIlroy got to the venue early, walking the course on Friday and playing practice rounds on Saturday and Sunday and again yesterday.
And he reckons the long, windswept course will suit his big-hitting, aggressive style, providing he stays out of the deep fescue rough.
“I like it, I really do,” he said.
“I got a good look at it on Friday, when I walked it, and I played yesterday and on Sunday. For a US Open venue it’s a little more generous that we have seen in the past, which is great.
“I think it will allow guys to be aggressive. You hit a lot of drivers around here and you can be aggressive with your iron shots. It gets a little tricky on the greens sometimes but it will be a good test.”
He’s clearly unconcerned about wearing himself out, and explained that his extra practice rounds are designed to give him confidence on a track that features 14 blind shots, either from the tee or into greens.
“That’s one of the things you are going to have to be really confident with on Thursday — knowing exactly where to hit your tee shots,” he said.
“There are even a couple of second shots that are blind too. The shots off tees are really important so if you can get really comfortable with those, they say a course is only blind once. So once you’ve played it, you should know where to go.
“You need to be in control of your iron play and be able to work the ball right to left and left to right against the wind. You have to be able to keep the ball down a little bit because the fairways aren’t running too much and I don’t think they will run that much either.
“You can’t really run shots into greens but you still have to flight your ball, and you still need to be able to flight it through a breeze like this.
“The wind isn’t going to be like this for the tournament, so that will be a factor, so whoever controls the ball the best will have a great chance.”
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