Rory McIlroy reckons he’s back in a comfort zone at the Travelers Championship after struggling with last week’s U.S. Open mental test.
McIlroy tees-up in the $US 7m event as the bookies joint favourite despite a third straight U.S. Open flop. Though the now World No. 7 has good cause to embrace the ‘feel good’ factor on a course, around a 3-hour drive north of Shinnecock Hills, after having signed-off with a sizzling final round 64 in last year’s event on the par-70 TPC River Highlands course in Connecticut.
Also, the Cromwell lay-out is where USA Ryder Cup captain, Jim Furyk shot a PGA Tour all-time low score of 58 in 2016.
“Some guys endured that mental test for four days last week, and some others like me endured it for two rounds,” said McIlroy smiling.
“I wasn’t beaten up too badly compared to some of the guys. But I think getting to a PGA Tour event where it’s more familiar to you in terms of golf course setup and surroundings and all that stuff will be beneficial.”
“It is why this tournament works so well, because it is directly after a week like last week and guys can get back into a normal routine, whether it’s seeing good golf shots being rewarded or putting some red numbers on the board, that sort of stuff.”
“It just gets you back into a nice routine, and obviously it makes you feel a bit better about yourself when you’re shooting some under-par scores.”
McIlroy will play the opening two rounds in the company of fellow Major winners Bubba Watson and Justin Thomas and also in the Connecticut field is Phil Mickelson who issued an apology for his deliberate actions in stopping a rolling ball during the third round last week at Shinnecock Hills.
Mickelson’s actions generated a fire storm of debate but McIlroy, who had played the first two rounds in Mickelson’s company, reckons it was all a storm in a tea cup.
“I was practicing on the range when it happened and when I came back in, I saw what happened,” said McIlroy. “Honestly, I laughed. I felt there was a massive overreaction to it.”
“Knowing Phil, he knew what he was doing. He’s a player that’s been in that head space at that tournament, I can see it happening to people.”
“It’s a tournament that Phil has come so close so winning over the past few years. He’s probably seen what’s happened over the past few years at that tournament, and it’s frustrated him because it’s the only one that he hasn’t won, plus it’s probably becoming the hardest one to win for anyone because it is a bit of a lottery at times.”
“I don’t know if I’d go to the lengths that he went to in making a statement like that, but I thought there was a massive overreaction to it.”
IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
Padraig Harrington – 12.50pm
Rory McIlroy – 1pm
Seamus Power – 5.10pm