'The Best Week Of Ball-Striking I've Ever Had' – McIlroy Reflects On US Open Success

Rory McIlroy win the US Open trophy after his 2011 success
(Image credit: Getty Images)

As he prepares for another shot at ending his long wait for a fifth Major, Rory McIlroy can look back with fondness at the tournament where he won his first – his incredible US Open victory.

McIlroy describes his 2011 success at Congressional as “the best week of ball-striking I've ever had” as he freewheeled to a dominant victory just a couple of months after his epic Masters meltdown.

It was the first of four Majors that followed in three years, but his PGA Championship success in 2014 remains his last victory – which you’d have got long odds on given how he was playing at the time.

As the Northern Irishman closes in on a decade since his last Major, he looks back at his remarkable eight-shot US Open victory with fondness as he looks to find his way back to the winners’ circle.

"It does feel like a lifetime ago,” McIlroy told Sky Sports about his 2011 win. “And I honestly think it's the best week of ball-striking I've ever had. I don't know whether I've hit the ball better than that week.

“I go back and I watch that week quite a lot just because of how well I hit it, but also because, and this is what makes me feel old, I’ve just started to remember watching the highlights rather than remembering actually what happened.

"But It's great to have your name on a trophy like this.”

McIlroy has followed three straight missed cuts at the US Open with four straight top 10s – and he believes that he’s now figured out exactly how to attack the toughest test in golf.

"I've sort of had my ups and downs in this tournament as the years have gone by, but I feel like I've figured it out,” McIlroy added.

“I think it’s four top 10s in a row coming in here. I've started to figure out how to handle US Open conditions and tests and I think there's certainly a lot more patience in my game than there used to be."

McIlroy building towards big performance

McIlroy, one of the favourites again to win the US Open, says it’s something of a mystery playing Los Angeles Country Club and there’s plenty of excitement in store for viewers as well as plenty of trouble for players.

“Nobody really knows, as there’s never been a US Open here, there’s been a couple of highly regarded tournaments in the Walker Cup and the PAC-12.

“Five par 3s, three pars 5s, there’s a driveable par 4 on the front nine as well – it gives you room to play but if you miss the room they give you, you’re in trouble.

“The greens are very fast, very slopy – there’s a lot to think about but if you keep everything in front of you, you’ll be OK.”

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After all the problems McIlroy’s had to deal with off the course, he believes he’s building towards a big Major display again as he continues to work on his game.

"I would say I'm building towards something. I'm certainly feeling a lot better coming into this major championship than I was going to Oak Hill.

"I sort of pieced it together around Oak Hill and did okay, but the last two performances - minus the two Sundays - have been really big steps of progress and it's just about trying to build on that."

Paul Higham

Paul Higham is a sports journalist with over 20 years of experience in covering most major sporting events for both Sky Sports and BBC Sport. He is currently freelance and covers the golf majors on the BBC Sport website.  Highlights over the years include covering that epic Monday finish in the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor and watching Rory McIlroy produce one of the most dominant Major wins at the 2011 US Open at Congressional. He also writes betting previews and still feels strangely proud of backing Danny Willett when he won the Masters in 2016 - Willett also praised his putting stroke during a media event before the Open at Hoylake. Favourite interviews he's conducted have been with McIlroy, Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn, Rickie Fowler and the enigma that is Victor Dubuisson. A big fan of watching any golf from any tour, sadly he spends more time writing about golf than playing these days with two young children, and as a big fair weather golfer claims playing in shorts is worth at least five shots. Being from Liverpool he loves the likes of Hoylake, Birkdale and the stretch of tracks along England's Golf Coast, but would say his favourite courses played are Kingsbarns and Portrush.