Rory McIlroy maintains he is not just using his debut at the RBC Canadian Open as preparation for an assault on the US Open title at Pebble Beach.
The 30-year-old Northern Irishman heads to Hamilton looking to build momentum into the third major of the year and on the back of a disappointing performance at the Memorial Tournament.
Having missed the cut in each of the past three US Open events, McIlroy believes delivering a strong showing through all four rounds in Ontario will be crucial.
“This isn’t just a preparation week. This is a very prestigious tournament, one of the oldest tournaments in the world that I would dearly love to be able to add my name to,” said McIlroy, who claimed his first major triumph with victory in the 2011 US Open at Congressional.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Hamilton and I’m excited to be here.
“It’s a very strategic golf course. You’ve got to put it in play off the tee, and I’m definitely going to have to drive it better this week than I did last week.
“There’s a variety of different tee shots that you need to hit, with different clubs, and the greens are going to be a very similar type of grass.
“The rough is pretty thick as well, so if you miss it in the rough you’re doing well to get it up by the green. And then, if you do miss greens, it’s going to be pretty similar in terms of the lies that you get.
McIlroy told reporters at a press conference: “I’m fully focused on this week, but knowing that if I play well here this week, and have good control of my ball and my distance control, that that will serve me well going into next week.”
Defending champion Dustin Johnson will be another looking to make an impact through this weekend.
The American world number two, though, is no longer working directly with long-time coach Claude Harmon III in a new set-up moving forward.
“I’ve always worked with coach (Allen) Terrell, I’ve always worked with Butch (Harmon) and Claude, so it’s not really a change,” Johnson said.
Johnson played the last four Canadian Opens contested at Glen Abbey Golf Club but is ready for the challenge of tackling the shorter Hamilton course, the players having been taken off for spells during Wednesday’s practice round because of rain and dangerous weather conditions.
“It’s kind of an old school golf course. Got to hit it straight, but I like it so far, what I’ve seen,” said Johnson, who finished runner-up at the PGA Championship last month.
“I feel like I’m rested. I’m mentally sharp, and I’m ready to go for the last push through the end of the year.
“I’ve got a lot of really big tournaments coming up, and for me, it’s just about putting myself into position to have a chance to win.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Rory McIlroy fired a five-under-par round of 66 to move into contention for a third career victory at the Wells Fargo International in Charlotte.
Playing in his first tournament since finishing in a tie for 21st place at The Masters last month, McIlroy shared the lead with American Joel Dahmen.
McIlroy, who earned his first PGA Tour win at the Quail Hollow venue in 2010 before reclaiming the title five years later, shot five birdies to leave himself in contention.
There was also a strong performance from Scotland’s Martin Laird, who shot 67 to sit just one stroke behind McIlroy, in a group which also included former Masters champion Patrick Reed.
Justin Rose’s bid to recover from his Masters disappointment did not go entirely to plan as he sat four strokes behind McIlroy after shooting a one-under-par round of 70.
Rose, who missed the cut at Augusta for the first time in his career, recorded three bogeys in an inconsistent round which looks unlikely to put him in a position to challenge the leaders.
Rory McIlroy was pleased to be back in the hunt for a major title despite ultimately missing out at the Open at Carnoustie.
The former world number one, chasing his first major in four years, finished in a tie for second on six under, two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari.
McIlroy slipped back to three under early in his round but powered back into contention on a congested leaderboard, which included a rejuvenated Tiger Woods, with an eagle on the 14th.
McIlroy said: “It was great, just to be a part of it and hear the roars, Tiger being back in the mix – everything.
“There were a lot of big names up there and it was nice to be a part of it. For a while, I thought Tiger was going to win and my mindset was, ‘go and spoil the party here’.
“It was cool, really cool. I have no regrets. I played the way I wanted to play this week and it gives me a lot of encouragement going into the final major of the year.”
McIlroy was left to wonder what might have been after settling for pars on the last four holes but he feels his game is now in good shape.
The 28-year-old said: “I’m happy with how I played. I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back. Just sort of ran out of holes at the end.
“I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done, and the golf that I played, and I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”