The Big-Hitting Amateur Outdriving Rory McIlroy At The US Open

Luke Clanton outdrove Rory McIlroy over the first two rounds of the Pinehurst No.2 event as he became one of only three amateurs to make the cut

Luke Clanton at the Luke Clanton of the Florida State Seminoles tees off during the Division I Men's Golf Championship
Luke Clanton outdrove Rory McIlroy in the first two rounds of the US Open
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy put himself into a great position after the first two days of the US Open to prepare for moving day knowing he was only two shots behind overnight leader Ludvig Aberg at Pinehurst No.2.

His customary monster drives from the tee have helped him achieve that, setting him up for the shots of great precision needed to achieve the pin-high outcomes that have generally helped him manage the treacherous greens.

However, if the sight of the four-time Major winner regularly bombing it 300+ yards off the tee was hardly unexpected, he probably didn’t anticipate being outdriven by a little-known amateur at the 2024 tournament.

That’s exactly what Luke Clanton achieved over the first two rounds, though. The Florida State amateur stood third on the list of average driving distances on Friday evening, with an average of 331.3 yards over his first two rounds. Meanwhile, McIlroy was directly beneath him with an average driving distance of over three yards shorter at 328.1 yards.

Only Cameron Young and Bryson DeChambeau were above Clanton on the list, with DeChambeau predictably leading the way on 334.7 yards. Incredibly, Clanton even out drove DeChambeu in the first round, with 336.7 yards to the LIV golfer’s 336.1 yards.

Of course, a challenge like Pinehurst No.2 in a US Open was never going to be all about driving distances, with players needing to bring every aspect of their games together to excel, and that was in evidence on Friday, particularly from McIlroy, who at one point de-greened a putt before chipping in for a miracle par in what must have felt as good as a birdie in a tight contest.

Rory McIlroy takes a tee shot at the US Open

Rory McIlroy was an average of three yards behind Clanton at the halfway stage of the event

(Image credit: Getty Images)

It’s not been going badly for Clanton either, though. While his astonishing driving distances have obviously helped his cause, his rounds of 76 and 69 mean he made the cut on the number as some of the biggest names in the game missed out, including 15-time Major winner Tiger Woods and former World No.1 Justin Thomas.

In fact, Clanton, who reached the tournament through final qualifying, is one of only three amateurs heading into the weekend, along with Masters low amateur Neal Shipley and Gunnar Broin.

Clanton begins his third round 10 off the lead and eight behind McIlroy, so it may be asking a lot for him to challenge towards the top of the leaderboard come Sunday evening, but with a weapon as potent as his monster driving ability in his armory, there’s no reason to think that he won’t continue to impress as the tournament draws on.

Top 10 Average Driving Distances At US Open - Rounds One And Two

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RankPlayerRound OneRound TwoOverall
1stBryson DeChambeau336.1333.3334.7
2ndCameron Young332.8330.2331.5
3rdLuke Clanton (a)336.7325.9331.3
4thRory McIlroy328.3327.9328.1
5thDean Burmester325.9330.4328.1
6thMin Woo Lee325329.9327.4
7thNicolai Hojgaard328.8324.8326.8
8thMax Greyserman319.8331.1325.4
9thIsaiah Salinda314.2328.9321.5
10thTim Widing323318.1320.5
Mike Hall
News Writer

Mike has over 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on a range of sports throughout that time, such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance staff writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the game's most newsworthy stories. 

He has written hundreds of articles on the game, from features offering insights into how members of the public can play some of the world's most revered courses, to breaking news stories affecting everything from the PGA Tour and LIV Golf to developmental Tours and the amateur game. 

Mike grew up in East Yorkshire and began his career in journalism in 1997. He then moved to London in 2003 as his career flourished, and nowadays resides in New Brunswick, Canada, where he and his wife raise their young family less than a mile from his local course. 

Kevin Cook’s acclaimed 2007 biography, Tommy’s Honour, about golf’s founding father and son, remains one of his all-time favourite sports books.