McIlroy stumbles to 77 in US Open
Everything seemed effortless for Rory McIlroy last year in the
He opened with a 65, then kept cruising at rain-softened
Congressional en route to an eight-stroke win.
This year at The Olympic Club, McIlroy might not even be around
for the weekend unless he plays better than he did Thursday. He
shot a 7-over 77 and was 11 strokes behind first-round leader
”I just too many times was in the wrong position off the tee or
with my second shot and it makes it very difficult,” McIlroy said.
”When you’re trying to play catch up on this golf course, it’s
very hard … you have to be so precise. Anything just a little off
and it really punishes you.”
Through 16 holes McIlroy had already missed 10 greens – the same
number he missed in four rounds at Congressional when he shot 16
under to set a record with the lowest score in championship
He missed the last two greens as well and finished
”Seven-over is a big hole for any player,” 2010 U.S. Open
champ Graeme McDowell said when asked about his Northern Ireland
countryman. ”Rory McIlroy’s a pretty good player though, so if
anybody can come back from it, he can. But this golf course doesn’t
really offer up many 64s.”
Even on the reachable par-5 17th, McIlroy walked away with a
Credit goes to Olympic’s tight, twisting fairways and rock-hard
greens – a stark contrast to Congressional.
But there also was no energy to feed off of in the marquee
afternoon grouping, which featured top-ranked Luke Donald, No. 2
McIlroy and No. 3 Lee Westwood.
Donald shot a 9-over 79, and Westwood was 4 over through the
first six holes before steadying himself and finishing at 73.
Donald insisted there wasn’t much time for chit-chat to boost
”The U.S. Open demands your full attention, and obviously Lee
had a good back nine, but Rory and I both struggled,” Donald
McIlroy was so deep in the rough on No. 12 his next shot came
out sideways, and led to another bogey.
On 13, he threw a tired fist-pump when he finally hit the green
and sank a birdie putt.
But he couldn’t keep it going.
He mashed a 3-wood on the next tee, leaving him just 79 yards to
the green on the 419-yard par 4. But he missed the green left with
a wedge and had to settle for par.
On the par-3 15th, McIlroy’s tee shot came up short and
disappeared into the deep rough. He couldn’t get any closer than 20
feet with his chip, and missed the par putt.
The 77 was the third-highest opening-round score for a defending
champion dating to 2001 – with Angel Cabrera (2008) and Retief
Goosen (2002) both posting 79s.
”There’s a fine line on this golf course between (a) 68 and 78
really,” McDowell said. ”There really is. It’s fine lines. And
the key, one of the big keys this week is to get off to a nice
start and don’t let the place beat you up too early.”
McIlroy did just that, opening with a bogey then posting three
more on the front nine and four on the back.
It was a far cry from a year ago when, after his runaway
victory, some were suggesting McIlroy might be the guy to challenge
Jack Nicklaus’ benchmark of 18 majors.
McIlroy looked better throwing out the first pitch at a San
Francisco Giants game on Tuesday than he did negotiating Olympic on
He insisted he wasn’t feeling the pressure as defending
”I tried to approach it like any other tournament I play,”
said McIlroy, who initially declined all interview requests before
offering a few quotes 20 minutes after his round ended. ”I tried
to go out there and shoot the best score I could. And today wasn’t
my greatest day, but hopefully I can come out tomorrow morning and
try and shoot a good one and at least try to be here for the
McDowell expected as much.
”He’ll be coming out with guns blazing tomorrow trying to get
himself back in the mix,” McDowell said.
McIlroy knows it won’t be easy.
”I’ve got to hit it in the fairway for a start,” he said.
”And from the fairway, I’ve got to hit it on to the green. You
just keep it simple and try to hit fairways and try to hit greens
and not be too greedy.”