PINEHURST, N.C. – Rory McIlroy has won majors at rain-soaked venues (Congressional, Kiawah Island), and he’s the oddsmakers’ favorite this week at Pinehurst No. 2.
Nonetheless, the world No. 6 says he is “relishing the challenge” of having to fire away from flags, to rely on his creativity and imagination, to scramble and grind out pars.
“It’s conditions that I haven’t won in before and I’d love to be able to prove it to myself, but also prove to other people that I can win in different conditions,” he said Wednesday at the U.S. Open. “It’s a great opportunity to do that this week.”
McIlroy said that he would attack as few as five hole locations during the 72-hole event, saying that he’d rather take his chances with a two-putt from the middle of the green than miss on the short side and be forced to summon a miraculous recovery. He anticipates each approach to pitch about eight or 10 paces on each green.
“It’s going to be a test of patience,” he said.
McIlroy added a 3-iron to his bag and took out one of his four wedges. Why the change? When he played a practice round last week, he hit only three wedge shots, total, and preferred to lay back off some tees with a 3-iron that runs 260-270 yards.