‘It doesn’t hurt, that’s for sure’ – Rory McIlroy bullish about US Open chances after Canadian triumph
RORY McIlroy has finished ninth, eighth and seventh in his latest three US Opens but even before winning his 21st PGA Tour title at the RBC Canadian Open, the Holywood star wasn’t ready to settle for sixth at Brookline this week.
It would keep my top ten run going in the majors but that’s not really of any consequence,” the Holywood star said. “The US Open has been a weird one. I went through a few years of not playing well at it (after missing the cut three years in a row before those three top 10s).
“Honestly, it’s been the major the last few years that I’ve felt the most comfortable at. I don’t know if it’s just my style of game has evolved, being a bit more conservative off the tee. Maybe it’s something to do with the fact that Mike Davis doesn’t set the golf courses up, either.
“Not anything against Mike, I just seem to enjoy US Opens a little more than I used to. But sixth place, look, I’m playing well and I know if I go and play my game at Brookline I’ll hopefully be in the mix come Sunday.
“I’d take sixth after three rounds and see where that gets me, I guess.”
Despite his youth, McIlroy (33) would match Julius Boros (1952-1963) and Hale Irwin (1979-1990 ) with the longest ever gap between US Open wins – 11 years – were he to capture that elusive fifth Major this week.
He certainly looks to have all the tools required to win this week given the brilliance of his closing eight-under 62 and the way he overcame the psychological blow of losing a three-shot lead to come through and win in Toronto.
“It doesn’t hurt that’s for sure,” he said. “Regardless of whether I won today or not, I think I would’ve felt really good about my game for producing the shots that I needed to produce over those last couple of holes under pressure.
“I lost the lead so to get it back again, the resilience that showed shows where I am with my game and my confidence levels. I am really proud of that so I’m feeling good going into next week.”
McIlroy’s victory, his first for 10 months, catapults his from eighth to third in the world, which is his highest ranking since August 2020.
But its spectacular nature, coming after a vibrant, final day duel with PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, was also a win for the PGA Tour at the end of a fraught week for golf following the inaugural LIV Golf Series event in the UK.
Having be accused by LIV Golf CEO and commissioner Greg Norman of being “brain-washed” by the PGA Tour in the build up to the $25 million opener at the Centurion Club, McIlroy could not resist a dig at the Great White Shark on Sunday night after passing his total of 20 wins.”
After initially saying, “It’s my 21st PGA tour win one more than someone else [Norman]. That gave me a little bit of extra incentive today and I’m happy to get it done,” he elaborated further in his official press co conference.
“Yeah, I wanted it a lot. I wanted it at the start of the day and there was a few different incentives in there,” he said after winning by two shots from Tony Finau and by four from Thomas, who bogeyed the last two holes.
“I’ve been up against JT quite a bit in the past and he’s gotten the better of me a couple of times. So I knew I had to play really good to beat him. Tony as well. Tony played incredible golf today too. So that was a big part of it. I think going up against the best and beating the best is always makes it extra special.
“And then, look, I alluded to it, I had extra motivation of what’s going on across the pond. The guy that’s spear heading that Tour has 20 wins on the PGA Tour and I was tied with him and I wanted to get one ahead of him. And I did. So that was really cool for me, just a little sense of pride on that one.”
As a PR exercise for PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan, who dismissed the Saudi-financed LIV tour now supported by Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Co as “a series of exhibition matches against the same players over and over again.”
Asked if this would would mean more for his “legacy” further down the line, McIlroy said: “I guess time will tell.
“It feels really good with all the things that were going on in the world of golf this week. For the Canadian Open, a national championship, to have a week like it’s had, three of the best players in the world going at it down the stretch, trying to win in front of those crowds and that atmosphere.
“That’s what I talked about last week at Memorial, talking about a proper golf tournament. Like that was just, that’s as top notch as you’re going to get. It was a pleasure to be a part of and I’ll look back on this week and this, especially today, with very, very fond memories.
“In terms of what it means for legacy, I don’t know, but I just know it feels really good to win this week of all weeks.”