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Rory McIlroy: ‘I’d love if we played more golf courses like Pinehurst’

It’s no surprise this year’s US Open venue has produced such fondness in the Northern Irishman – after an opening 65 saw him tied for the lead

 

Rory McIlroy said Pinehurst No. 2 reminded him of the links golf he played as a kid as he opened his US Open challenge with a stunning 65.

Seeking to end a 10-year drought in major championships, the Northern Irishman fashioned an impressive bogey free round as he hit the summit at five under alongside Patrick Cantlay.

It could hardly have been a better start. McIlroy picked up birdies at the 4th and 5th, the latter chipping in, before finding more at the 10th and 16th.

His final birdie at the last was arguably the most impressive – confidentially drilling home a 20-footer to join the lead.

At a course probably as far away as possible from the traditional US Open set up, McIlroy said he was revelling in the challenge Pinehurst No. 2 presented.

“It sort of brings me back to links golf when I was a kid a little bit,” he said. “The greens are a bit more sort of slopey and there’s a bit more movement on them. But there’s options. You can chip it. You can putt it.

“I’d love if we played more golf courses like this.”

Rory McIlroy US Open

Rory McIlroy US Open: “It’s nice to get off to a good start”

McIlroy added he’d adopted a “super conservative” strategy – “just trying to be as even-keeled as I possibly can be” – and noted the importance of getting off to a good start.

“I went through a run there for a while where my starts at major championships weren’t very good,” he explained. “Probably got myself a little too worked up at the start of the week.”

He continued: “Certainly the major championships that I’ve won or the ones that I’ve played well at, I’ve always seemed to get off to a good start, and it’s nice to get off to another one.”

Asked whether the course set up had been spot on, McIlroy said: “Yeah, I think so. I think we got lucky, as well. There was a lot of humidity early in the day, and then there was quite a lot of cloud cover the whole way through the day so it kept the golf course from getting too fiery.

“Selfishly for me, getting back out there in the morning, it’s going to be nice. Hopefully the clouds clear away and it’s a nice clear day for the guys in the afternoon.

“But it definitely wasn’t quite as fiery as I expected it to be this afternoon, which has yielded some decent scores.”

Picture courtesy of the USGA

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Steve Carroll

Steve Carroll

A journalist for 25 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former club captain, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the R&A's prestigious Tournament Administrators and Referees Seminar.

Steve has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying, PGA Fourball Championship, English Men's Senior Amateur, and the North of England Amateur Championship. In 2023, he made his international debut as part of the team that refereed England vs Switzerland U16 girls.

A part of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap. He currently floats at around 11.

Steve plays at Close House, in Newcastle, and York GC, where he is a member of the club's matches and competitions committee and referees the annual 36-hole scratch York Rose Bowl.

Having studied history at Newcastle University, he became a journalist having passed his NTCJ exams at Darlington College of Technology.

What's in Steve's bag: TaylorMade Stealth 2 driver, 3-wood, and hybrids; TaylorMade Stealth 2 irons; TaylorMade Hi-Toe, Ping ChipR, Sik Putter.

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