‘He’s been in his worst form for 10 years… I feel he’s better when he’s got a point to prove rather than the happy space he is in at the moment’: Paul McGinley suggests becoming a father won’t help Rory McIlroy at US Open
- Paul McGinley thinks the arrival of Rory McIlroy’s child will not improve his form
- McIlroy will tackle possibly the hardest course in the entire game at US Open
- McGinley believes there could be a long-overdue English victory at Winged Foot
- Dustin Johnson is favourite after finishing finish 2-1-2-1 in his last four events
The romantic view holds that new dad Rory McIlroy will ride the wave of parental bliss and end his six-year drought in the majors by winning the 120th US Open at mighty Winged Foot this week.
Then there is the hard-nosed professional view.
‘I have my doubts,’ says former Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley. ‘You could argue in the past few months, since the end of lockdown, Rory’s been in his worst form for 10 years.
The arrival of Rory McIlroy’s new child will not benefit his golf, according to Paul McGinley
‘I feel he is better when he’s got a point to prove rather than the really happy space he is in at the moment with the baby coming along. He’s enjoying it and rightly so. But is it going to aid his mindset? I’d question that.’
There is one damning statistic that adds considerable weight to McGinley’s argument. All 28 of McIlroy’s professional victories have come with a winning score of at least 12 under par. Now he is about to tackle what might be the hardest course in the entire game, or at least when the USGA have finished wrapping it in swathes of heavy rough.
The last time the US Open was staged at Winged Foot in the state of New York in 2006, Australian Geoff Ogilvy won with a score of five over par.
‘You can’t be too critical because Rory has already had a phenomenal career. But if he wants to be considered one of the greats of the game, I feel there’s a lot of things still to be achieved,’ said McGinley, who’s working for Sky Sports this week. ‘He likes courses he can take by the scruff of the neck but this will be a really difficult test.
McGinley believes his fellow countryman is ‘better when he’s got a point to prove’
‘We saw how Tiger could adapt when he won the 2006 Open at Hoylake hitting just one driver all week. I think that patience, to just slowly run the marathon and get the job done, that’s what Rory needs if he’s to take over from Nick Faldo and become the best golfer that Europe has produced.
‘Has he got it in him to do it? Yeah, absolutely. It’s a question of getting focused and saying: ‘‘I’m going to show you, I’ll prove you wrong.’’ Let’s hope he manages it. Wouldn’t it be great to see him come through and perform on a course this difficult?’
There is no doubt who is the favourite, after Dustin Johnson’s blistering run that has seen him finish 2-1-2-1 in his last four events and reclaim the world No 1 spot. The 36-year-old American won his only major to date, the 2016 US Open, at the similarly daunting Oakmont. McGinley, however, thinks the winner may well come from outside the trio of Johnson, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas — and believes there is every chance of a long-overdue English victory.
McGinley believes an Englishman could pip world No 1 Dustin Johnson to the US Open crown
‘If this was a normal PGA Tour set up, you’d certainly be highlighting those three but, because it will be a unique test, there’s a lot of other people in the equation too,’ said McGinley.
‘I’m looking at guys like Xander Schauffele as the sort who’s ready to burst through and win a major. Or a steady player like Webb Simpson, who’s already won one US Open and looks ready to win another. I like Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick, two players who do well on tough courses.
‘I rate Paul Casey’s chances as well. We saw a different side to him at the last major, where he was unlucky not to win in San Francisco last month and he’s after that major to complete his career. We’ve been starved of European victories in American majors but I’m excited about this one. I think the course sets up well for our guys and I’m thinking this might be the one where we finally have plenty to cheer.’
Watch the US Open from first tee to final putt each day on Sky Sports Golf.