“I’ve got a nice run leading up to The Open”, said McIlroy.
The Englishman rallied with a string of five birdies in a row on the way to a one-under 71 that put the smile back on his face and his name on top of the leaderboard at Erin Hills. They were three shots clear of anyone else.
And it doesn’t stop there. Next week’s Travellers Championship begins a stretch of six events in eight weeks, including two major championships and one, the US PGA Championship, at the Quail Hollow venue he has previous for pulling apart.
Rain-softened conditions at Erin Hills made greens more receptive and a lack of brisk winds left the course virtually defenceless. The wind wasn’t almost as strong as thought.
Dustin Johnson. Rory McIlroy. Thomas made six birdies and one bogey on his front nine in the third round, and Hoffman birdied three of his first five holes.
Casey started the second round just one shot behind Rickie Fowler, and he tied Fowler briefly with a birdie on the par-4 11th hole before dropping a shot on the 12th.
Every golfer knows that one shot at the end of a round can leave you with a better – or worse – taste in your mouth than you rightfully deserve. I will be going in there tomorrow and Sunday near the top. “It’s the kind of golf course that if you’re on point and playing well and you’re in the fairways, you really feel like you can be aggressive and attack and make some birdies”. So you’ve got to be very, very patient and stay in the moment.
The Wisconsin native is a fan favorite in the first Open in his home state. It has learned to accept that in pristine scoring conditions – mainly, soft conditions – low scores don’t distract from the tournament.
McIlroy claimed his first major title in the US Open at Congressional in 2011 with a record 16-under-par total. Erin Hills was awarded the U.S. Open back in 2010, and its readiness seemed unassailable – there were no reports of incompetence or preparation delays or last-minute scrambling; to stroll the grounds is to be mesmerized by the magnificence of the course and the grandness of the event, with its enormous roving infrastructure, legion of staff and assorted media and punctilious commitment to procedure and decorum.
“It doesn’t need to be too much of a change for this golf course to play pretty hard”, said Casey.
Day carded a three-over 75 Friday to finish a disappointing 10 over. None has ever won a major, and neither have the next 14 players behind them.
Justin Thomas managed to stand out in a U.S. Open where par is going out of style.
It sounds as if Erin Hills is becoming more challenging with each passing minute.
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“I need to get competitive rounds, a card in my hand”, he said. “It was a bit of a roller coaster round but if you can get through any Major with a hiccup like I had you have to be delighted, and I am”. What we do talk about is making sure we can adjust the course.
“It’s just golf. It’s frustrating”.
What it’s really about is a stern test.