U.S. OPEN

McIlroy relishing challenge of new US Open course

UNIVERSITY PLACE (Washington) - Rory McIlroy refused to join the chorus of disapproval that has provided the soundtrack to this year's US Open.

Where other golfers have been moaning at the thought of playing at the unpredictable Chambers Bay course, the world No. 1 said on Tuesday that the British flavour could work to his advantage.

"It's a pure links test," he said.

ON COURSE
I'm a completely different player now... I had no control of my game at that point. A repeat of that (round) is definitely not going to happen.
- World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, on his blowout in 2013

OFF COURSE
Off the course, you have to be stable. You have to be happy and keep it simple. That's the big thing.
- McIlroy, who has a new girlfriend

When he added that "volatility in golf is a good thing", he was speaking about his capacity for hits and missed cuts but he could very well have written Chambers Bay's tagline.

Tiger Woods followed McIlroy into the press tent and said this was "unlike any other Major we've played" and that he would need to aim 70 feet from the flag to get close on some holes.

McIlroy, though, is relishing testing his status at the controversial venue, which reminded him of Muirfield in Scotland.

When it was pointed out that he had a round of 79 there in 2013, he countered: "I'm a completely different player now. I'm in a completely different place. I had no control of my game at that point. A repeat of that (round) is definitely not going to happen."

The difference extends to his private life and he is happy in a new relationship.

"Off the course, you have to be stable," said McIlroy, who broke off his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki last year. "You have to be happy and keep it simple. That's the big thing."

In the short term, the decision to go to a new venue has created a nice diversion after all the hype of the Masters at Augusta.

This time, the stage has provided a different dimension.

Woods warned of "funky bounces" and players getting close with terrible shots.

"You're going to see some different things," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2015, with the headline 'McIlroy relishing challenge of new US Open course'. Print Edition | Subscribe