McIlroy blasts drive over net at Cherry Hills range


CHERRY HILLS VILLAGE, Colo. – Rory McIlroy can’t be contained, not on the Cherry Hills Country Club driving range.

Though club officials went to great lengths to contain the game’s big hitters, raising the netting at the back of the driving range from 60 feet to 90 feet a couple years ago, McIlroy still cleared it, knocking a ball on to University Avenue with a driver after arriving Tuesday for the BMW Championship.

The practice tees are 298 yards to the netting from all the way back on the range. The tees were up 30 yards or so on Tuesday.

McIlroy sheepishly cringed after launching a tee shot over the netting. With Cherry Hills Country Club at an elevation of 5,380 feet, balls are generally flying 10 percent farther than they do at sea level.

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“Rory hit a couple drives 400 yards in our practice round,” said Erik Compton, who played with McIlroy on Tuesday.

McIlroy drove the 346-yard first hole with a 3-wood in the practice round. That’s the hole Arnold Palmer made famous driving the green with his opening tee shot in the final round of the 1960 U.S. Open, triggering his seven-shot comeback victory.

Cherry Hills is set up this week as a par 70 at 7,352 yards with just two par 5s, but the rough is up enough that it won’t allow big hitters to hit driver with impunity.

“Certain courses lend themselves to long hitters, but I’m not sure this is one of them,” Zach Johnson said.

McIlroy said Cherry Hills isn’t set up to allow him to blast many drivers, but he said he hit a 3-wood 370 yards in Wednesday’s pro-am.