US Open: McIlroy thrilled with 'controlled' and 'disciplined' start at Pinehurst

By Sports Desk June 14, 2024

Rory McIlroy believes his "controlled" and "disciplined" start will stand him in good stead at the US Open, where he is eyeing a first major triumph in 10 years.

The three-time major winner opened with a bogey-free opening round of 65 at Pinehurst for a share of the lead with Patrick Cantlay.

It is a good omen for McIlroy, who has gone on to lift the trophy on all three occasions he has started a major without bogeying - achieving the feat at the 2011 US Open, 2012 PGA Championship and 2014 Open Championship.

The 35-year-old also equalled his best-ever start at a US Open, having posted 65 on the way to his 2011 victory and second-place finish 12 months ago.

"It's nice to see your name at the top of the leaderboard after the first day of a US Open," McIlroy, who hit five birdies including two in the last three holes, told Sky Sports. 

"I felt like I played a really solid, controlled round of golf. I just stayed disciplined and when I got myself in trouble, I took my medicine, two-putted.

"This is the whole thing about a US Open, it's trying to keep clean scorecards like this. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to keep it bogey-free for the rest of the week. But it's not about how many birdies you make, it's about how many bogeys you don't make.

"I had a run of pars from the 11th through to 15th where I had chances and wasn't able to convert. But I feel like the patience I showed over those five holes was rewarded with two birdies in the last three - a great way to finish.

"I went through a run for a while where my starts at major championships weren't very good. I probably got myself a little too worked up at the start of the week.

"Certainly, the major championships that I've won or the ones that I've played well at, I've always seemed to get off to a good start, and it's nice to get off to another one."

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    Rory McIlroy was surprised by Keegan Bradley's appointment as the USA captain for the 2025 Ryder Cup, saying there is no way a player-captain role can work effectively.

    The PGA of America confirmed Bradley's appointment on Monday after Tiger Woods decided against leading the team at Bethpage Black golf course in New York.

    Bradley just missed out on the team for last year's 16.5-11.5 loss to Europe in Rome but was expected to be in contention for a place at the USA's home tournament, prompting several players to express surprise at his appointment.

    While McIlroy believes Bradley's experience of the course will benefit the USA, he is unsure what to make of the appointment.

    "It's a surprise for everyone. But he knows Bethpage very well. He went to university in the area. He's obviously very passionate about the Ryder Cup," McIlroy said.

    "It's certainly a departure from what the US have done over the last few years, and time will tell if that's a good thing or not."

    Asked if serving as a player and captain at the same time can ever work, McIlroy revealed he has rejected the chance to take on such a role for the 2027 event, which takes place in County Limerick, Ireland. 

    "Absolutely not," McIlroy said. "I've contemplated it for Adare but there's too much work that goes into it. I've seen what Luke [Donald] went through, preparing for Rome.

    "There's no way you can be as good a captain as you need to be and be a playing captain as well. If you want to be the best captain you can be, you can't play. 

    "If you want to be the best player, you can't captain. So it's one or the other, especially with how big the Ryder Cup has become and how many things you have to do in the lead-up.

    "Keegan is the 19th-ranked in the world so he has a great chance of making the team. If he does, I think he's going to have to give that captaincy role to one of the vice-captains."

    Europe will look to win the Ryder Cup on American soil for the first time since 2012 next year, with the event starting on September 25.

  • McIlroy learning from U.S. Open heartbreak McIlroy learning from U.S. Open heartbreak

    Rory McIlroy is hoping to learn from his near-miss at the U.S. Open as he looks to get his season back on track following that agonising day at Pinehurst.

    McIlroy capitulated late on in the last round at U.S. Open last month, allowing Bryson DeChambeau to capitalise and clinch the title.

    It has been a decade since McIlroy won the last of his four majors, but the Northern Irishman will hope to end that run at The Open next week.

    First, McIlroy will defend his title at the Scottish Open, and speaking to the press ahead of that tournament, he said he will "learn a lot" from that U.S. Open heartbreak.

    "I look back on that day, just like I look back on some of my toughest moments in my career," McIlroy said.

    "I'll learn a lot from it and I'll hopefully put that to good use.

    "It's something that's been a bit of a theme throughout my career. I've been able to take those tough moments and turn them into great things not very long after that.

    "I think the way I've described Pinehurst on Sunday was like it was a great day until it wasn't.

    "I did things on that Sunday that I haven't been able to do in the last couple years.

    "Yeah, it was a tough day. It was a tough few days after that, obviously.

    "But I think as you get further away from it happening, you start to see the positives and you start to see all the good things that you did throughout the week."

    McIlroy took a short break away from the game after the U.S. Open, but he is now raring to go.

    "I had some good chats with people close to me," he said.

    "As you start to think about not just Sunday at Pinehurst but the whole way throughout the week, there was a couple of things that I noticed I wanted to try to work on coming into here and obviously next week at Troon.

    "They were hard but at the same time, as each day went by, it became easier to focus on the positives and then to think about the future instead of what had just happened."

  • Schauffele: Bradley Ryder Cup captaincy 'surprising' Schauffele: Bradley Ryder Cup captaincy 'surprising'

    Keegan Bradley's appointment as the USA captain for the 2025 Ryder Cup was "surprising", says Xander Schauffele, but he is confident he is up to the task.

    The PGA of America confirmed the decision on Monday after Tiger Woods decided against leading the team in New York.

    Bradley was left out of the team for last year's 16.5-11.5 defeat to Team Europe in Italy, and emerged as a late contender before the announcement.

    The move took many by surprise, with two-time Ryder Cup player Xander Schauffele admitting he was also expecting Woods to be named Zach Johnson's successor.

    "Yeah, it's surprising," he said during a press conference ahead of The Open Championship.

    "You typically expect someone that's a little bit older to get selected as a captain. I think a lot of people were banking on Tiger to do it.

    "He obviously has a lot on his plate. Keegan expressed his love for the Ryder Cup publicly, which we all saw.

    "I haven't talked to him or seen him yet, but I'm sure he's over the moon and is going to do a great job.

    "He's a very passionate individual. On the course, he's intense, that's just how he competes and how he is.

    "As a captain, he's going to have a mixed bag, and he's not going to be afraid to hold a speech with the guys and get everyone going."

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