Sport Golf

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Rory McIlroy feeling 'absolutely fine' as knee fears eased for US Open charge

Holywood star allays injury fears as he prepares for US Open assault

Karl MacGinty

Published 11/06/2014 | 02:30

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Rory McIlroy laughs on the practise range prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst
Rory McIlroy laughs on the practise range prior to the start of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst
Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker on the fifth hole during a practise round for the US Open golf tournament in Pinehurst
Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker on the fifth hole during a practise round for the US Open golf tournament in Pinehurst
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during a practise round for the US Open
Rory McIlroy hits his tee shot on the seventh hole during a practise round for the US Open

US Open favourite Rory McIlroy bounced into Pinehurst and dispelled any vestige of doubt about his fitness.

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McIlroy ricked his knee last Thursday week at the Memorial.

However, reports about a medial ligament strain in the joint were dismissed by the 25-year-old yesterday.

"The knee is absolutely fine," he said. The Holywood native appeared to be in rude health as he ripped golf balls down the range before heading out for a practice round.

Like fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, his playing companion in tomorrow's first round, McIlroy did the bulk of his preparatory work during a two-day visit to Pinehurst last week.

McIlroy "loves" the No 2 course, which McDowell described as "beautiful" after a morning practice round with Shane Lowry and Aaron Baddeley.

"It's a touch of St Andrews, Royal Portrush, Hoylake. It's linksy, but doesn't play like a links around the green because of the Bermuda fringes, which are grainy," McDowell explained. "It's very unAmerican."

He recently met the redesigners of No 2, Ben Crenshaw and Bill Coore, as he played six holes.

"It was great to chat with them," said the Portrush man. "I challenge anyone to hit more than 12 greens a day here. It's that type of track. Twelve greens would be a great ball-striking round, I think, so there'll be six, seven, eight scrambling opportunities per day and the guy who scrambles best will win.

"There'll be a low birdie count at this US Open," McDowell added. "You're going to have to par this place to death and the guy who makes the most pars is going to win.

"Yes, I think that suits me, as opposed to Merion last year, which was too wet and the rough got too penal.

"This year, I feel I can keep the ball in play, be disciplined with my iron play and scramble."

Irish Independent

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