Thursday 20 June 2019

McGinley: 'Rory needs to lay down an early Koepka marker'

Ireland's Paul McGinley. Photo: Phil Inglis/Getty Images
Ireland's Paul McGinley. Photo: Phil Inglis/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Paul McGinley insists that Rory McIlroy cannot be intimidated by Brooks Koepka and must hit the ground running at Pebble Beach this week by producing his pointy elbows of old.

Until Sunday, Mcllroy hadn't produced a truly dominant final-round performance since he won by seven shots at Quail Hollow in 2015.

And McGinley wants to see him put some average opening rounds in Majors behind him and stand up to Koepka, who is going for his fifth Major win in his last nine starts.

"He knows he's going to be defined by how many Majors he wins and that adds a lot of pressure," McGinley said of McIlroy's poor round one statistics.

"But all the guys face that and that's what made Woods so great that he was able to embrace that expectation on his shoulders.

"If Rory can approach the first two rounds with the mindset he showed in rounds three and four of the first two Majors this year, then look out."

Captured

McIlroy has played 17 Majors since he captured his fourth in 2014 and broken 70 in just three of his first rounds, averaging 72.05.

In contrast, Koepka has won four of his last eight Majors, averaging 68.12 in round one (70.35 for his last 17 opening rounds) and McGinley wants to see Mcllroy produce early.

"He shouldn't be intimidated, it should have the opposite effect," he said of McIlroy. "Koepka is displaying exactly what I'm saying, he's got pointy elbows, there's no doubt about that.

"You look at that guy's body language, you look at the marker he put down against Tiger Woods in the first two rounds in the US PGA, this guy has a chip on his shoulder, this guy is on a mission," added McGinley who will be on commentary duty for Sky Sports when the US Open begins on Thursday.

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