If Rory McIlroy was just a fan of golf and coming to Shinnecock to watch the event, he would have a personal favorite. And it’s not him.
“if I wasn’t playing and just purely as a fan of golf, I’d love to see Phil [Mickelson] win this week because it’s great for the game,” he said. “It’s a huge story in the game of golf. And as someone involved in the game, I think it would be really cool for that to happen.
“But seeing as I’m playing in the tournament, I’d rather beat him and not have that happen. But if it isn’t me that wins this week, it would be a great story if Phil was to win.”
Of course McIlroy wants to win the US Open. He last won a major at the British Open in 2014 and is looking for another since.
He does like his chances here at Shinnecock, however, there’s going to be one factor e will have to take into play and that’s the wind.
“You know what, a little bit,” he said “I think the only thing here compared to maybe courses back home is it’s quite difficult to run the ball onto the green here because of how steep some of the fronts of the greens are. So you’re having to carry it onto the green and stop it pretty quickly. So it’s a little different that way.
“You know what, I feel — you know, most weeks that we play on Tour, there’s a little bit of wind at least one day so most of the guys out here are used to playing in conditions like that. Maybe some of the guys coming from Memphis last week where they played and it was quite calm maybe just have to readjust and get used to playing in a bit of wind again. But most of the guys are so experienced and have played in wind.
“Maybe guys that have grown up in windy conditions might have a tiny bit of an advantage, but everyone out here knows what to do and knows how to handle whatever comes at them in terms of conditions.
“But it’s going to be a great test. I think the golf course is great. A little bit of wind will make it interesting. Should be in for a great tournament.”
The Northern Irishman still faces an uphill battle, since most experts are not picking him to win, but they are not picking Mickelson or Tiger Woods either. So he has a shot, but needs to play like he did four years ago when he won two majors or in 2011 when he won the Open.
“I first played here back in 2014, and it’s definitely been a U.S. Open I’ve been looking forward to,” McIlroy said. “I love the golf course, especially with how the conditions have been, especially yesterday with a bit of wind and the dryness. It sort of reminds me of some of the courses from back home a little bit, the way the golf course has been playing.
“Yeah, except there’s been great championships here — ’86, ’95, ’04. Great winners. And, yeah, I’ve been looking forward to it. I spent quite a bit of time here. I came straight after Memorial. I played the day after and played a few of the courses in the area. I think it’s definitely one of the best areas in the world in terms of golf courses. So I had a bit of fun doing that.”
Hopefully he will have fun in the next few days.