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Saturday, July 2, 2022

McIlroy makes more noise at US Open, this time with clubs

BROOKLINE, Mass ( Associated Press) — Rory McIlroy made another bold statement at the US Open. This time it was with his golf.

McIlroy has become a prominent voice on the PGA Tour over the years, particularly with his rebuke of the Saudi-funded series disrupting golf. Thursday’s opening round at The Country Club was a reminder that he is also very good at his day job.

And some fiery moments showed how badly he wants to end eight years without a Major.

McIlroy made two straight birdies late in his round and became the first player to reach 4 under on an early start, only to miss the ninth green and lead with his only bogey and qualifier Joel Dahman for 3-under 67. made part of. David Lingmarth and Callum Terren.

At the moment, McIlroy isn’t worried about his strong stance against LIV golf.

“It’s been eight years since I won a Major,” he said. “And I just want to get my hands on it again.”

Even after a good start and a win at the Canadian Open last week, it doesn’t look easy. The country club can be sociable throughout the week, with moderate wind and cloud cover keeping the sun from turning crisp and firm.

And the best anyone could do was 67.

Colin Morikawa, trying to win a Major for the third year in a row, thought he might be able to take it deeper – at least by US Open standards – when he birdied the ninth hole to reach 3 under. Of. But he didn’t make another birdie and was closed with a bogey when he had to fall short of the gaping bunker on the 18th, slammed a pitch into the sand and scrambled for 69.

“I think it will only get harder,” he said.

Jon Rahm was on 69 after hitting a wild drive on his last two holes and converting one for a par, the other for a birdie.

It was already proving tough for Phil Mickelson, playing on American soil for the first time as he revealed his level of support for the Saudi-backed league and played in Greg Norman’s first event last week.

Mickelson four-putted from nearly 18 feet for a double bogey on the par-3 sixth, through six holes in the afternoon to leave her in a 5-over par.

For McIlroy, it was his second straight Major – and the third time in his last four US Opens – that he opened with an equal score. He has confidence in his game to win last week in Toronto, and passion for Thursday is rare unless the game turns bad.

He tried to play the inaccessible par-4 fifth hole and caught a strange lie in a thick collar on top of a bunker, causing him to stand in the sand. He hit it in another bunker, and then twice out of desperation slammed the club into the sand. But he managed to save the par.

“You’re going to face things at the US Open, whether they’re lies or things like that, that you don’t really face any other week,” he said. “It’s hard not to be disappointed because I’m going to be like, ‘Just get back to the bunker.’ The roughest roughness on the course is around the edges of the bunker. So I was cursing the USGA every time I went over the ball.

And then from the ninth fairway, his approach shifted to the right and he threw his club. He couldn’t save the equivalent of that one and had to accept a 67 – not a bad start, and no apologies for some of his outbursts of emotion.

“Almost sometimes to remind yourself how much it means to you,” he said.

A lot is on the table outside of golf as well, with 13 players at the US Open who took part in Saudi-backed LIV golf last week, prompting the PGA Tour to suspend those members.

McIlroy, the first to shut down rival league talk in 2020, spoke passionately this week about building on the legacy handed down by Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. For those taking guaranteed money for 54-hole events, he said it felt like the “easy way out.”

But now it’s time for golf, and in a relief, attention may be turning to the US Open that first took place at Brookline more than a century ago. Thursday was more about the birdie and bogey – mostly later in the US Open – and a place in history.

No other Major is more open – about half of the 156-man field has to be qualified – and it showed with those who shared an early lead with McIlroy.

Dehmann debated whether to go to a 36-hole qualifier in Ohio 10 days ago. The US Open is tough and has been beaten by travel and pedestrian consequences. Also, it was to rain. But he went anyway, and he qualified with one shot remaining.

Lingmarth was in the same qualifier and had to play 36 holes and then some for last place due to a 5-for-1 playoff. He went to Hayden Buckley – he was among those at 68 on Thursday – and Lingmarth was the first alternate. He came in when Martin Kemmer took it back.

Terrene received one of three places in the Canadian qualifying site.

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More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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