ERIN, Wis. - Rory McIlroy will miss the cut in back-to-back U.S. Opens, but he isn’t blaming Erin Hills.
He loves it, though it proved unrequited love . . . until his final six holes.
McIlroy posted a 1-under-par 71 Friday, which left him at 5 over for the championship. He left, though, with good feelings about Erin Hills after making birdies at four of the final six holes.
“The golf course is great,” McIlroy said. “It lets you be aggressive, you can get on runs where you can make birdies. Not your typical U.S. Open setup. But I'm a big fan. I think it's going to produce a really good winner at the end of the week.”
McIlroy loved the way he believed Erin Hills set up for his game as one of the best drivers in the world. He even chastised the USGA on Tuesday, for hacking down wide swaths of fescue 48 hours before the event, words that would come back to haunt him after saying anyone that couldn’t hit those fairways should pack up and go home.
With Erin Hills’ massive length, with its equally massively wide fairways, McIlroy couldn’t take advantage Thursday with his swing off. He hit just five of 14 fairways in the first round, found himself hacking out of fescue all day, and shot 78. He rebounded Friday hitting 12 of 14 fairways.
McIlroy chalked up his poor start to rust. After missing long spells this year healing up a rib injury, he arrived at the U.S. Open without having played competitively in five weeks, since The Players.
“Coming off an injury, I was a little anxious going out there,” McIlroy said. “I think the more rounds I can play, I'm hopefully going to get rid of all that stuff and hopefully strip it down to what you saw the last six holes.”
McIlroy won the U.S. Open at Congressional in 2011 in an eight-shot runaway, but he’s now missed cuts in three of the last six U.S. Opens. He said he’s eager to ramp up his schedule this summer. He’s in next week’s Traveler’s Championship.
“I've got a nice run leading up to The Open Championship,” McIlroy said. “I've got a busy summer, so I'm excited to play a lot of golf. I feel like that's going to help me to get back into contention and hopefully try to win some of these things.”