Tuesday 25 June 2019

Rory McIlroy warns golf chiefs to up their game to avoid US Open backlash

McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were among the heavyweights who considered a boycott of the US Open following recent controversies. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were among the heavyweights who considered a boycott of the US Open following recent controversies. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Rory McIlroy believes the USGA could face a serious backlash from players if they fail to "redeem themselves" at Pebble Beach next month.

McIlroy and Dustin Johnson were among the heavyweights who considered a boycott of the US Open following recent controversies, according to a recent report in Golf Digest.

And the County Down man admitted ahead of The Memorial Tournament in Ohio that the USGA could face serious player unrest if they fail to get things right this year, following a series of rules and course set-up controversies in recent years.

"They are trying to do as good a job as they can, but even they would admit they have made a couple of mistakes over the past few years," McIlroy said.

"But everyone does and I think we should give them the chance to redeem themselves. And if they can't redeem themselves at Pebble Beach then there could be a problem!"

The World No 4 believes the USGA has moved too far away from its traditional set-up in recent seasons.

"In my head, growing up watching US Opens, my perception was of tight fairways, thick rough and a premium on accuracy and precision," McIlroy said.

"I think some of the golf courses we have played and some of the set-ups have gone away from that. As I have said, we play one Open Championship a year, we don't need to play two.

"I think it has just lost its identity a little bit in terms of what it is and I'd like to see it go back to that because it worked. It really worked."

The Holywood star (30) is hoping to spoil the party for Tiger Woods at Muirfield Village this week by preventing the Masters champion from matching Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins, in the event hosted by Jack Nicklaus

"It's more impressive than his Major tally," said McIlroy, who could become only the second player after Woods to win The Players and the Memorial in the same season.

"Eighty-two wins, even if you are on tour for 20 years, that's four a year, every year. It's very, very impressive."

McIlroy won't be in Lahinch for July's Dubai Duty Fee Irish Open, where Paul McGinley will play host.

With Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links going on the market earlier this week with a guide price of €50 million, it appears that plans to have Pádraig Harrington host the Irish Open at the Dublin links next year have also been shelved.

The European Tour was ready to bring the event to a venue that's received an €11m facelift from owners Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate and Ryder Cup skipper Harrington was understood to be keen to take the event back to the capital.

However, the uncertainty over the sale and the eventual arrival of new owners has forced the tour to consider other options.

"We are very much undecided about where we are going next year," said Simon Alliss, championship director for the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

"We visited Portmarnock Links as well as other venues like County Sligo last year before opting for Lahinch. But sometimes you get to a point, when you start looking deeper into something, that plans change.

"We haven't decided on a host for 2020 yet, but it is more than likely that it will be in the North, but the options we've got there are a little limited at the minute. It depends on what venue is most suitable for the host."

A move north to a venue such as Portstewart could reactivate plans to have Darren Clarke host and Alliss foresees no plans to move the Irish Open to September or to move away from links terrain for now.

Meanwhile, as Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire tee it up in the US Women's Open the Country Club of Charleston, Gavin Moynihan and Michael Hoey are in action in the €1 million Belgian Knockout at Rinkven International Golf Club in Antwerp.

Belgian Knockout Live, Sky Sports, 11.0am

The Memorial Tournament Live, Sky Sports, 1.0pm

US Women's Open Live, Sky Sports, 7.30pm

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