Rory McIlroy to adopt aggressive approach after horror opening round at US Open

Rory McIlroy hits from rough on the 18th hole
Rory McIlroy hits from rough on the 18th hole

Rory McIlroy will take an aggressive approach to try and rescue his US Open campaign after slumping to an opening 77 at Oakmont.

McIlroy completed his weather-delayed first round on Friday with bogeys at the last three holes to finish seven over par, equalling his worst ever score in the event which provided his first major victory in 2011.

The only good news for the 27-year-old was that Thursday’s early starters would not start their second rounds until Saturday morning, after initially being given a start time of 8:54pm on Friday night – two minutes after sunset.

“It was hard yesterday to get into any sort of rhythm and when you are not in control of your swing it was compounded by being so stop-start,” said McIlroy, who carded eight bogeys and a solitary birdie.

“Right now I need to focus on hitting fairways and greens. I think I hit five fairways and eight greens which is not going to do anything. I hit irons off the tee on the first three holes and missed three fairways. With the course playing so soft I might just hit a lot more drivers and be as aggressive as I can.

“The toughest thing is trying to stay positive and not getting down on myself.”

McIlroy has never won a tournament in the United States after an over par opening round, but could take some encouragement from American Andrew Landry, the world number 624, shooting 66 to record the lowest first round in nine US Opens at Oakmont.

“You see guys shooting in the red and there are scores out there to be had,” the four-time major winner added. “You really need to be in control of your golf swing though and today, or over the last two days, I haven’t been.

“So I need to work on that, but there are low scores out there and if I’m able to get myself together I feel like I will be able to shoot one of those and I can stick around for the weekend at least. I need to shoot something like 66 in the next round to give myself any chance.”

Meanwhile, unheralded American Andrew Landry created history in the weather-delayed US Open as Lee Westwood found himself in contention for a long-overdue first major title at Oakmont.

Landry was facing a birdie putt on the ninth, his final hole, when play was abandoned for the day on Thursday after numerous thunderstorms dumped more than an inch of rain on the course.

And the world number 624 calmly holed out from 10 feet when play resumed yesterday to complete a four-under-par 66, the lowest first-round score in nine US Opens at Oakmont. The previous best of 67 was set by Ben Hogan in 1953 and matched by Gary Player in 1973.

“Someone just told me I broke the record so that’s pretty cool,” said the 28-year-old from Texas, who had not even shot lower than 68 this season in 11 starts in his rookie year on the PGA Tour. “I read the putt last night and it was a pretty easy putt to make.”

Westwood had four holes to play yesterday and completed them in two under thanks to birdies on the eighth and ninth, the 43-year-old signing for a three-under-par 67, his lowest opening round in 17 US Open appearances.

“I’ve been playing well and was really looking forward to coming back to Oakmont,” said Westwood.

“I had a good experience here last time and I like a challenge. I picked up where I left off at the Masters and the last three events (which produced three top-15 finishes) and I’m very pleased to make a good start.

“You don’t want to shoot a lot over par and have to chase.”