Rory McIlroy confident ahead of US Open defence

 

2012 US Open Championship

  • Venue: The Olympic Club, San Francisco
  • Date: 14-17 June

Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC website, updates on BBC Radio 5 live

Rory McIlroy says he is feeling good about his game as he prepares to defend his US Open title in San Francisco.

McIlroy had missed three straight cuts before showing a return to form by tying for seventh at the St Jude Classic last weekend.

"It's nice to finally be happy with my game - it felt like I turned a corner last week," said McIlroy.

"I never doubted my ability, everyone goes through periods where they don't play as well as they would like to."

He added: "I'm playing some good golf again and I'm excited to get going on Thursday - I can't wait."

The Northern Irishman won the US Open title by eight shots at Congressional last year and says the year that followed has been "great".

US OPEN FACTFILE

  • No-one has won back-to-back US Opens since American Curtis Strange won it in 1988 and 1989
  • American Lee Janzen won the tournament the last time it was held at San Francisco's Olympic Park in 1998
  • Rory McIlroy's total of 268 at Bethesda's Congressional Country Club was the lowest in the tournament's 116-year history

"I've won some more tournaments since then and I've made it to number one in the world so I've reached a few of the goals I've wanted to accomplish," enthused McIlroy.

"Life has changed over the past 12 months but I'm just concentrating on listening to the people I trust around me and believing that I have enough ability and know-how to get through the bad patches.

"I'm just glad that my bad spell didn't go on too long and I'm now back to something like my usual game - I have lots of positives to take into this week.

"It's great to be defending the title I won at Congressional but there are a lot of good players in the field and will take a lot of good golf to get that trophy back.

"I'm trying to be the best golfer I can be, but not let that take over my life.

"I want to do the normal things that a 23-year-old would do and I am finding that increasingly tough, but it's just something I have to deal with."

McIlroy will partner English pair Luke Donald and Lee Westwood in the opening two rounds of this year's tournament.

McIlroy was given the honour of throwing the ceremonial first pitch at San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park

Three-time US Open champion Tiger Woods goes into the tournament bang in form after winning his 73rd PGA Tour title, at the Memorial.

Woods, who has not won a major in four years, went into the US Masters in April on the back of a win but says he is more confident this time.

"When I went into Augusta [for the Masters], I did not feel comfortable hitting the ball up and I got back into a lot of my old patterns. Unfortunately, it didn't work out," said the 36-year-old.

"What made playing Muirfield [for the Memorial tournament] so nice is that I had those shots and I was doing it the correct way. I had compression and I was hitting the ball high and hitting it long. That was fun."