Punch Shot: Will McIlroy be fatigued at U.S. Open?

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Rory McIlroy is competing in his fourth consecutive event at this week's BMW PGA Championship. He will also be playing next week's Irish Open, before taking a two-week hiatus ahead of the U.S. Open. Not only is McIlroy playing a lot leading up to the Open, he's consistenly in contention (win-T-8-win, in first three starts). Should there be a fatigue concern for McIlroy at Chambers Bay? Our writers weigh in.

By REX HOGGARD

It’s been 265 competitive holes and 7,166 miles flown for Rory McIlroy the last three weeks and the end is still not in sight with the world No. 1 two more starts (this week’s BMW PGA Championship and next week’s Irish Open) away from a much-needed break.

For some that hardly sounds like a recipe for success with next month’s U.S. Open looming, but let’s hold off on the armchair quarterbacking until the experiment is complete.

A golf public that has been conditioned that less is more by Tiger Woods’ dominance the last decade and a half will consider McIlroy’s current run – he’s playing his fourth of five consecutive events this week – dangerous at best.

“I told him he’s crazy,” said Gary Woodland, who lost to McIlroy in the finals at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, where he began his marathon run.

While there will always be a concern that the Northern Irishman won’t have anything left in the tank when he arrives in the Pacific Northwest for the year’s second major, if his play last week at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he lapped the field by seven strokes, is any indication he’s not exactly running on fumes.


By RANDALL MELL

It’s not so much about whether Rory McIlroy will be fatigued going to the U.S. Open - he’ll have two weeks off leading into the year’s second major after this five-week blitz - it’s whether he’s spent when he gets to Chambers Bay, whether he peaked too early.

With his victories at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play Championship and Wells Fargo Championship, McIlroy’s on fire. He heads to the European Tour’s big event at the BMW PGA this week and then the Irish Open with terrific momentum, but it’s natural to wonder how long he can fan the flames. McIlroy’s on a run of big events where he’ll need those two weeks off to re-charge his batteries. The trick will be keeping those weeks off from becoming a cooling-off period.

McIlroy has a nice history of going on tears. He won three times over a five-week span in 2012 and three times in a four-week span last year. This five-week run he is on now could well end with three or four victories. With any hot run like that, there’s the danger of a letdown getting the rest he needs going to the U.S. Open. That’s what he’ll be guarding against.


By RYAN LAVNER

Rory McIlroy is in the midst of a five-event run that will see him visit three countries and cross eighttime zones in 33 days. Forget for a moment that he’s 26 and in outstanding shape. That’s still a ton of golf for anybody.

But on a scale from Who Cares to Defcon 5, McIlroy’s whirlwind world tour hardly registers. Why? Because he’s been taking steps to minimize the workload, delaying his arrival at each of his past three tournaments to Wednesday. Plus, by skipping the Memorial, he’ll have two weeks off before the U.S. Open.

When he returns home to South Florida, McIlroy can (1) shelve the clubs for a few days to decompress; (2)return to the range and ramp up with a full week of practice; and then (3) fly to Seattle for a couple of weekend practice rounds at Chambers Bay before tournament week.

He won’t be rusty, because he just played five consecutive events. Nor will he be burnt out, because he just had two weeks off. Hmm, come to think of it, Rory’s actually sounds like the ideal schedule.


By WILL GRAY

Haven’t we been through this exercise before with Rory McIlroy? Everyone was expecting a dip last summer as he tore through some of the summer’s biggest tournaments, but he never slowed down in completing a three-leg sweep from Liverpool to Akron to Louisville. At 26 years young, McIlroy can recover from a long stretch of play better than guys like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson, and he will have two full weeks off before teeing it up at Chambers Bay.

This stretch of five straight events across two continents and three countries is a formidable slate, but it will only serve to sharpen McIlroy’s game heading into the U.S. Open – not that it needs much sharpening after his romp at Quail Hollow. He has taken similarly busy approaches to preparing for past majors, and he has done so with considerable success. Barring some sort of injury, there’s no reason to think he’ll run out of gas this time around.