Friday 20 April 2018

McIlroy to march into eye of storm with Tiger

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Karl MacGinty

RORY McILROY is Manchester United to the core, but should heed the words of a famous Liverpool anthem and 'keep his head held high' when he 'walks through a storm' in the first round of the US Open.

High winds, torrential rain, hailstones and maybe thunder and lighting are expected to batter Merion Golf Club today, with flash-flooding also a possibility.

And the worst of the weather is expected in early afternoon, when McIlroy (right) is scheduled to tee it up with Tiger Woods and Masters champion Adam Scott in the marquee group.

World No 2 McIlroy certainly would not be rated among the best in bad weather, evidenced by his missed cut at the European Tour's flagship BMW Championship following an off-colour 75 on a freezing, wet Friday at Wentworth.

Mike Davis, Executive Director of the United States Golf Association has been told that anywhere between half an inch and up to three inches of rain could fall on the East Course tomorrow.

That means rainfall over the past six days could reach nearly nine inches, twice the average monthly total for June in the Philadelphia area.

"There could be some really high winds with us, potentially damaging winds," Davis went on. "Even some hail."

"Our meteorologist is fairly certain we're going to have some type of weather tomorrow ... but it's going to be probably mid-afternoon or later."

That won't bring much cheer to World No 1 Woods or his closest rival in the rankings, McIlroy.

Still Darren Clarke expects fellow Ulstermen McIlroy and Graeme McDowell both to be pressing for a second US Open title come Sunday.

"Rory and Graeme are world- class players. Accuracy off the tee and getting his ball around a course are right up G-Mac's street, so Merion should suit him," said Clarke. "Rory can win anywhere at any stage, he's got the most talent," the former British Open champion added.

Merion is short by modern standards but Padraig Harrington, one of the morning starters, still expects a gruelling challenge, saying: "I've seen 7,500- yard courses play shorter than this one."

Irish Independent

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