The competition is heating up, as it is now gut-check time for Rory McIlroy.
The world's No. 2 best golfer must defend his 2011 title at the U.S Open, as he has fallen off the map this season just enough to lose his No. 1 ranking in the sport.
It will be intriguing for fans to see if McIlroy can pick up where he left off last season at the Open, as his performance was one of the more memorable ones in recent history.
Picking up the win at the Olympic Club this season is all the more crucial, as he has lost his No. 1 ranking and struggled to play consistently for much of this season.
Losing the No. 1 ranking was a major blow to McIlroy, who was topped by English star Luke Donald. Donald, 34, has finished in the top 10 four times this season, and has made nine cuts in the nine events he has participated in.
Meanwhile, McIlroy has struggled mightily at times this season. He missed the cut at both the Players Championship and Memorial Tournament in May, and finished in 40th place at the Masters.
Following the poor play in those events, McIlroy most recently finished in seventh place at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
His inability to produce top finishes regularly could cost him the U.S. Open, as it will be key for him to have a more positive showing on this big stage.
As he is such a top-talent in the sport, it is hard to believe his inconsistency will continue to linger. His precision with the putter and immense drive have gotten him to where he is today, though his poise under pressure is where McIlroy needs to find himself again.
Considering his victory at Maryland's Congressional Country Club last season, there is no question McIlroy will be a fierce competitor in this tournament. Yet with such a roller-coaster ride this season, it is tough to predict what type of golf he will bring.
This is McIlroy's chance to prove to the world he can sit atop the sport, and will have to do so in order to regain his former No. 1 ranking.
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