Ed. note re: the headline: To be clear, I’m being facetious. It’s obviously pure speculation since the cut line has yet to be determined and we do not have knowledge of Rory’s weekend plans, if he does indeed have the weekend off.
So much for defending his U.S. Open title at Olympic Club. Rory McIlroy, who blew the field away by eight shots last year at Congressional, followed his first-round seven-over 77 with a three-over 73 in the second round for a two-day total of 10-over.
With the afternoon wave still on the course, McIlroy will need some help from the field, which should happen. The current cut line is five-over, but expect it to move back to at least eight-over and possibly nine or 10 (just a guesstimate).
So Mcilroy still has a chance to make up ground over the weekend. However, if he misses the cut, it will be the fourth in his last five starts.
What I find most disappointing has nothing to do with Rory’s scores. After both rounds on Thursday and Friday, McIlroy declined interviews — a very un-Rory move. A pool reporter got quotes from him in the locker room following the first round and a group of scribes did the same this afternoon.
The 23-year-old defending champion is obviously disappointed.
“I left myself with a lot of work to do after yesterday’s round, and to be honest overall I don’t feel like I played that badly for the last two days,” said Rory. “It’s just such a demanding golf course and just punishes the slight test shot that’s off line or that’s maybe not the right distance or whatever and that’s how I feel. I feel like you really have to be so precise out there and if you’re not, you’re going to get punished.”
Precision has been emphasized for weeks and months leading up to the championship. Maybe it’s a bit overdone, but like I wrote in my Casey Martin piece, that’s expected at the U.S. Open (obviously I don’t have to play it, thank god). It’s not exactly the most “enjoyable” golf of the year.
McIlroy said he knew he needed a few birdies coming in, so he tried to play as aggressive as possible and went for pins. He actually had several good opportunities, but his putting was suspect.
“I had a good look for birdie on 6 and didn’t take it,” he said. “And then I a look at eagle on 7 and made birdie there and had a good birdie look at 8 and once I missed that, I thought that if I holed that putt 8‑over might have a chance to make the cut. But once that was missed, I knew that I probably wouldn’t make it through the weekend.
“But as I said, I felt like I had some good shots out there and I don’t think the score that’s on the board really reflects how I played.”
Many have attributed McIlroy’s recent poor play to his lack of focus and globe-trotting with tennis star girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki.
Even Rory has implied that he’s been distracted. He admitted that his play the last month has been humbling.
“I just realized that you just got to keep working hard,” he said. “It doesn’t come easy to you all the time yeah. It hasn’t been the greatest run over the last six weeks or whatever it is; but as I said, I still see enough good stuff in the rounds that it does give me hope that it’s not very far away.”
After missing the cut at The Players, Rory hopped on a plane to Europe to meet up with Wozniacki. Then, his week at Wentworth for the European PGA Championship was cut short, so he made a pit stop in Paris before flying to Memorial to work on his game.
Now maybe it’s just me, but it seems like Rory’s adjusted his schedule much more to see Wozniacki than she has. I know, women! We’re so manipulative!
McIlroy said he was going to go home to prepare for the Irish Open and links golf, but he didn’t specify his immediate travel plans. Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if McIlroy’s booked a flight for England.
It’s a shame, really. As loyal WUP readers know, I’ve been high on McIlroy since most of you even had him on your radar — at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage, he had me with the first swing I saw him take. I understand young love is exciting and fun, and I respect Rory for being well-rounded, but there’s a line. At some point he has to decide whether he wants to realize his potential as a champion golfer or let that talent go to waste. He’ll still be better than most if he goes with the latter, but it’s a shame to those of us who wish we had even 1% of McIlroy’s talent and let distractions hinder him.
Luckily, Rory is only 23 and has time to turn it around and refocus. Well, actually, if he wants to jet-set and live the life, then go for it. I’m clearly being selfish here.
(Getty Images/Andrew Redington)