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US Open

Rory McIlroy gets coaching tune-up for US Open

Practice rounds are planned for today and tomorrow after talks with Dave Stockton

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 2:58am

World number two Rory McIlroy is off to the US Open venue at Merion to practice after a talk with coach Dave Stockton to try to lift his game before next week's major showdown.

The champion from Northern Ireland, who won his first major title at the 2011 US Open, spoke at Oak Hill, where he will defend his most recent major triumph at the 95th PGA Championship in August.

"It is the strongest field in golf and it's great to be able to come out on top in a field like that," said McIlroy, 25, who won last year's PGA crown at Kiawah Island.

McIlroy will play practice rounds today and tomorrow at Merion as he tries to fine tune a game that has seen him produce four top-10 showings in US PGA events, including a second at the Texas Open, but only a share of 25th at the Masters and 57th last week at the Memorial.

"I'm playing pretty well. I need it all to click into place and once I do that, I'll be off and running," McIlroy said. "All parts of my game are there. I just need to sort of put them all together for one week.

"I'm feeling good. I'm looking forward to seeing Merion. So it's just about getting to know the course there and being as comfortable with it as you can.

"I'm hoping that my sort of trend in the US Open continues, because I went miss cut, win, missed the cut, so hopefully I can win again."

McIlroy spent time with Stockton at Memorial last week.

"Dave Stockton was at Memorial for a couple of days, trying to get me to hole some more putts," McIlroy said.

"The ball striking has not really been an issue this year. I've actually hit the ball pretty well from tee to green, and I've given myself a lot of opportunities, but didn't take as many as I should have.

"If I keep hitting the ball the way I know I can and hole putts, I'll hopefully be in the winner's circle."

McIlroy fired a three-under-par 67 at Oak Hill on Monday in his first tour of the layout designed by Donald Ross in 1925.

"I really liked it," he said. "Big, mature trees, tree-lined fairways. It's a typical old style. It was obviously a fantastic golf course 50-60 years ago and it's a fantastic golf course now.

"It's not overly long by today's standards but you have to drive the ball very well. It gives you opportunities to score, but you've got some holes coming in that are very tough."

McIlroy said the course could surrender its lowest score in a major event, breaking the six-under total for 72 holes fired by Jack Nicklaus when he won the 1980 PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

"I think if the course played the way it is now, I would see Jack Nicklaus' total of 6-under being broken," McIlroy said. "Something somewhere between four and eight under par.

"If it plays firm and it plays fast and the rough is thick, something similar, you have some chances out there.

"The real challenge here is taking your opportunities when they come along and limiting the damage if you do hit it in the trees or the rough."

For the moment, however, McIlroy's focus is elsewhere.

"At the minute I'm just trying to concentrate on winning my next tournament," he said.

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