Per Bovada, McIlroy is the co-favorite, along with Tiger Woods, at 10-1 odds to win the 114th U.S. Open, in June, at Pinehurst’s No. 2 Course. However, it is doubtful that Woods will recover from back surgery in time to compete, according to Notah Begay (via CBSSports.com’s Kyle Porter).
2014 will mark just the third time the U.S. Open has been played at Pinehurst and first time since 2005. That year, Michael Campbell won with even par, two strokes ahead of Woods.
According to PGAtour.com, McIlroy is third on the Tour in scoring average, at 69.62 per round. Only Sergio Garcia (69.55) and Bubba Watson (69.58) have lower averages this season.
McIlroy is also tied for fourth in average birdies per round (4.31) and ranks 30th in greens in regulation percentage, with 69.17 percent of his shots hitting the green with a chance for birdie.
This skill should be especially useful at the U.S. Open, a major championship that prides itself on having difficult courses that feature scores around par. The U.S. Open requires accurate driving due to thick roughs, narrow fairways and fast greens.
At the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, McIlroy took advantage of the challenging course and demolished the competition, winning by eight strokes to capture his first of two career major championships.
McIlroy finished 16 under par with an aggregate score of 268, both U.S. Open records, and became the youngest U.S. Open winner since 1923, doing so at age 22 (via Golf Magazine’s Cameron Morfit).
The performance earned high praise from then-world No. 1 Luke Donald, who in Morfit’s story was quoted as saying, “I think he has probably the most talent I’ve ever seen from a golfer.”
Winning two majors at such an early age is no small feat. It is obvious that McIlroy is supremely talented. However, harnessing that talent is another thing entirely. In numerous tournaments over his career, one bad round has doomed an otherwise excellent weekend.
At the 2011 Masters, he held a four-shot lead heading into the final round on Sunday. However, he shot a final-round score of 80 to finish tied for 15th. A year earlier at the 2010 British Open, he had three sub-70 rounds, but he shot an 80 on Friday. He still managed to tie for third.
McIlroy has struggled with consistency, but although he has yet to win a tournament in six events this year, he has shown flashes of brilliance that reminds the Tour that he still has the capability to dominate the sport on any given weekend.
At the Honda Classic in February, McIlroy earned a runner-up finish with a score of eight-under par. The weekend before the Masters, he shot an identical score to tie for seventh at the Houston Open.
Sunday at the Masters, McIlroy recovered from a poor weekend and had a stretch of four birdies in five holes to shoot a 69 and tie for eighth overall for his best-ever finish at Augusta, according to Golfweek’s Nick Masuda.
If he can carry that momentum from the season’s first major championship to the second one in June, while taking advantage of a difficult golf course, McIlroy could very well win his third major at the U.S. Open.
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