Wednesday before a tournament, especially a major championship, means press conferences from just about every player you could want to hear from. One of the highlights this Wednesday was 2011 U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, who opened up to the media about missing Tiger Woods, why he’s recommitting himself to his golf, and his chances of picking up his second U.S. Open trophy.
When asked about Woods’ absence from the U.S. Open this week, McIlroy was honest.
“I’m sad. I miss him, yes,” McIlroy said with a chuckle.
“When I say I do miss him, I sort of mean it, because he’s a great addition to the tour and he has been the face of golf for the last 15, 20 years,” McIlroy said. “Golf is a better sport and a better place with Tiger Woods in it. So, hopefully, he has a speedy recovery and he gets back on the course soon, because any tournament where Tiger Woods is a factor, he creates a big buzz.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Tiger Woods in our game. He’s done more for golf than I’d say anyone has in the past — maybe Arnold in some way, but Tiger has brought so many new people into the game,” McIlroy said. “He’s given us on tour so many opportunities to play for bigger prize money, for more exposure, everything like that.”
The former world No. 1 also addressed what it’s like to be a 20-something under what feels like constant surveillance from the media, and why “burying his head in golf” is so important to him.
“I feel like my game is in a good place and I wanted to try and prolong that as much as I can,” McIlroy said. “I was down in Florida last week and the weather was good and there was no better place to spend than out on the course … messing around.”
“It’s hard. I just want to live my life like a normal 25-year-old.”
McIlroy comes into the U.S. Open playing some really good golf. He won the BMW PGA Championship three weeks ago and followed that up with an opening-round 63 at the Memorial. Despite fading and shooting 78 on Friday and settling for T-15, McIlroy is still very optimistic about this week and says he feels very good about his chances.
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“There’s a lot of guys coming in here feeling like they have a great chance to win. I put myself in that category and hopefully … I live up to that and I can give myself a chance coming down the stretch on Sunday.”
The linesmakers in Las Vegas certainly think he can: McIlroy is currently the favorite at 10/1.
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