Rory McIlroy: U.S. Open prep building on success in Canadian Open

PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from the 18th tee during a practice round prior to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 11, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
PEBBLE BEACH, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 11: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays a shot from the 18th tee during a practice round prior to the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links on June 11, 2019 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

Rory McIlroy continues his streak of top form in 2019. Heading into the U.S. Open off a win in Canada, it’s safe to say his confidence is sky high.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say it could be a big week for Rory McIlroy at the U.S. Open.  He just won in Canada, and now, misty, dare we say Irish, weather has rolled in to the coast of Northern California.  With his victory last week, he has plenty of confidence in his game.

"“I feel like the golf that I played last week is what I’m capable of and the golf that I’ll obviously try to produce more often,” McIlroy said to media just before the start of the championship. “You’re obviously not going to go out and shoot those scores every weekend, but it’s nice when it happens.”"

Rory McIlroy shot a final round 61 at Hamilton Golf Club in Ontario, Canada for his 25th international victory and his 15th on the PGA Tour.

However, he’s made a slight equipment change for this week that he believes will serve him well.  He’s carrying four wedges.

"“If I’ve learned one thing about the U.S. Open overall these years is your distance control has to be spot on,” he explained. “That was the reason for putting that extra wedge in. And I got a nice bit of practice with it last week, and feeling good about the setup.”"

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For McIlroy, there will be many approach shots that are between 130 and 150 yards.

"“Obviously there’s some approach shots that are much longer than that as well, but I just wanted to give myself every possible option in terms of yardages and shots that I could play,” he added."

To accommodate the switch, he is taking the 3-iron out, and he strengthened his 4-iron by one degree.   He’s also at a place in his game where he can play freely without thinking about it.

"“I hit driver. I hit it hard. I played with less technical thoughts, and that was really it,” he said about his play in Canada. “I wish I could go out and do that every single final round, but it takes a while to get to that point.”"

He doesn’t expect the wind along the Northern California coast to be an issue and added that it’s easier to play along the coast with the wind constant than it is inland with the wind swirling in and around the trees.

"“I think that’s why, for the most part, it looks like guys handle wind on the coast a lot better than they do — you’ll hear guys say it switched on me or it’s tricky. And it does,” he added. “Sometimes when it’s windy and the wind is swirling and it’s gusting, it’s all about hitting the shot at the right time.”"

He cited the 12th hole at Augusta National this year.

“The guys that were hitting it into the water on 12 coming down the stretch, that was probably not hitting it at the right time. But it gets hit by a gust of wind that they couldn’t feel,” he said.

At Pebble Beach, he expects the wind to be coming from the west every day.

"“It’s sort of 11, 12 miles an hour, whatever it’s going to be, so you’re sort of prepared for it,” he noted. “You know what it’s going to do, and it’s not going to surprise you”."

As far as the driver issues that bothered him at The Memorial, he feels he solved that with a change in his posture, standing more upright.

"“I’m probably going to hit five drivers max this week (per round),” he said about his approach to the golf course. “You’ve got the two par-5s on the back nine that you probably hit driver. Some guys probably won’t hit driver on the 18th. You’ve got the second hole, the 9th hole, the 10th hole. And that’s pretty much it.”"

As far as changes in the golf course, he mentioned that some of the fairways have been moved right or left of their locations for the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.  It changes the aim lines for tee shots and for shots to the greens.

"“I hit a tee shot up 11 yesterday that I thought was in the middle of the fairway, and it missed the fairway by ten yards,” he said. “The 8th hole, as well. The fairway is moved.”"

At the 8th, the fairway now slopes toward the ocean on the right side, just before the giant chasm of Pacific Ocean and rocks that golfers have to carry for their second shots. What that means is that a bad tee shot can actually roll off the fairway into the ocean.

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All in all, though, Rory McIlroy said the course is in great shape for the championship. The greens, he called perfect. The rough, he noted, is thick. He expected the cool, breezy weather to firm the course up.

"“If you hit it off line, you’re going to get punished. But it’s fair,” he explained. “It’s like I was saying to Mike Davis (CEO of the USGA) last night, the worst place you can miss it on this golf course is pin-high. If you miss the green and you miss it pin-high, you’re dead. You need to be either long or short and give yourself an angle.”"

Rory McIlroy tees off for the U.S. Open at 10:51 eastern from No. 10. He plays with Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman.