Rory McIlroy will enter the Olympic Club Thursday looking to defend his crown of U.S. Open Champion. He captured the 2011 Open at Congressional in record fashion, shattering the scoring mark with his unfathomable 16-under-par total. He finished a whopping eight strokes ahead of the second-place finisher and broke 70 in every round.
After some issues in his personal life were resolved and he recovered from an injured wrist, McIlroy went on a tear. From September of 2011 to March of 2012, McIlroy's worst finish in a tournament was 11th. He won twice and recorded four runner-up finishes. He was contending in every tournament he played in and looked to be taking his game to another level.
McIlroy suddenly came crashing back to Earth. He fell apart over the weekend at the Masters and was not a contender. After bouncing back at Quail Hollow with a tie for second, McIlroy unraveled. He missed three consecutive cuts at The Players Championship, the BMW PGA Championship and the Memorial.
This prompted McIlroy to enter the Fed Ex St. Jude classic last week. While he had the lead on Sunday, he struggled on the back nine and finished in a tie for seventh. He looked to be in good form again, but you have to wonder if his hooked drive on 18 that found the water will leave doubt in his mind.
Rory will be hard pressed to successfully defend his title at the Olympic Club. The course setup is much less friendly to his style. He might not be fully confident in his game at the moment. Then again, we all doubted him last year on the heels of his Masters collapse.
Here are some specifics as to what Rory must do to defend his title.