Former champion Rory McIlroy found form too late to avoid a second consecutive missed cut in the US Open, but was able to take some positives from his display at Erin Hills.
Playing just his seventh tournament of the year due to a rib injury, McIlroy left himself a mountain to climb following a first round of 78 on Thursday, when a record 44 players broke par.
And despite carding four birdies in his last six holes for a 71 on Friday, the four-time major winner saw his own pre-event prediction come true, having said on Tuesday that anyone who could not hit the wide fairways ”might as well pack your bags and go home”.
“I showed up for the last six holes, anyway,” said McIlroy, who won at Congressional in 2011 with a record 16-under-par total, but is now a combined 55 over par for his other eight US Open appearances.
“I definitely hit it better off the tee. I think I hit 11 fairways other than the five I did (on Thursday). But I think at the end of the day it’s competitive rounds with a card in my hand that I need and I’ve been very light on them this year.
“I saw some positives there on the back nine coming in and hopefully I can take them to the Travelers (Championship) next week. I’m excited to get on a run of golf and get going.”
McIlroy worked with his coach Michael Bannon on making a smoother transition from the top of his backswing and although he was three over par after 12 holes, birdies on the fourth, fifth, seventh and ninth ended the week on a high.
“Even though it’s very disappointing to not be here on the weekend, I think these last two rounds will serve me well going into the summer,” added the 28-year-old, who has added the Scottish Open to his schedule in between the Irish Open and Open Championship.
“I started to let it go a little bit on the back nine and showed what I can do. It didn’t matter at that point because I was so far from the cut line, but at least I know it’s in there, it’s just a matter of getting it out of me and getting myself in the right frame of mind.
“(On Thursday), coming off an injury, I was a little anxious going out there. I got off to a good start, but it sort of caught up with me as the round went on. I think the more rounds I can play, I’m hopefully going to get rid of all that stuff and hopefully strip it down to what you saw the last six holes.
“I’ve got a busy summer, so I’m excited to play a lot of golf. I feel like that’s going to help me to get back into contention and hopefully try to win some of these things.
“I’m hungry, but I’m not going to force it. I’m going to let it happen. I know if I go out and play the golf I’m capable of, good things should happen.”