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Rory McIlroy not in the swing of things as his US Open challenge falters

By Phil Casey

Published 18/06/2016

Tough going: Rory McIlroy hits from the rough on the 18th hole during the rain-delayed first round of the US Open at Oakmont
Tough going: Rory McIlroy hits from the rough on the 18th hole during the rain-delayed first round of the US Open at Oakmont

Rory McIlroy will take an aggressive approach to try and rescue his US Open campaign after slumping to an opening 77 at Oakmont.

McIlroy completed his weather-delayed first round with bogeys at the last three holes to finish seven over par, equalling his worst ever score in the event which provided his first major victory in 2011.

The only good news for the 27-year-old was that Thursday's early starters would not start their second rounds until this morning, after initially being given a start time of 8:54pm on Friday evening - two minutes after sunset.

"It was hard yesterday to get into any sort of rhythm and when you are not in control of your swing it was compounded by being so stop-start," said McIlroy, who carded eight bogeys and a solitary birdie.

"Right now I need to focus on hitting fairways and greens. I think I hit five fairways and eight greens which is not going to do anything.

"I hit irons off the tee on the first three holes and missed three fairways. With the course playing so soft I might just hit a lot more drivers and be as aggressive as I can.

"The toughest thing is trying to stay positive and not getting down on myself."

McIlroy has never won a tournament in the United States after an over par opening round, but could take some encouragement from American Andrew Landry, the world number 624, shooting 66 to record the lowest first round in nine US Opens at Oakmont.

"You see guys shooting in the red and there are scores out there to be had," the four-time major winner added.

"You really need to be in control of your golf swing though and today, or over the last two days, I haven't been.

"So I need to work on that, but there are low scores out there and if I'm able to get myself together I feel like I will be able to shoot one of those and I can stick around for the weekend at least. I need to shoot something like 66 in the next round to give myself any chance."

Meanwhile, Jordan Spieth has not given up hope of defending his US Open title despite a two-over-par 72 in the weather-delayed opening round.

Fellow American Andrew Landry had set the clubhouse target with a four-under 66, the lowest first-round score in nine US Opens at Oakmont as players took advantage of the softer conditions. But Spieth believes tournament organisers will take steps to ensure the winning score is close to level par when they set the course up for the remainder of the week.

"I didn't shoot myself out of it," the world number two said. "Ideally I would have been where the leader is at four under, but I honestly don't think that was even possible for our tee time.

"I think that those that went off first off had it best out of our wave. We're going to find out what happens with the guys that are playing 36 (holes) today. I mean, if the sun comes out and the wind kicks up, it could play harder than ours.

"So I'm not really sure how my score stands right now."

Belfast Telegraph

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