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The third Major of the year gets underway at The Country Club this week. However, as the ramifications continue following the opening LIV Golf Invitational Series event last week, one of the PGA Tour’s most staunch supporters, Rory McIlroy, still had plenty to say on the controversial start-up.
McIlroy goes into the US Open on the back of a thrilling RBC Canadian Open win, and as he prepares for a week he hopes will conclude with his second US Open victory, he claimed that players opting to take part in the Greg Norman-fronted Series were largely in the twilight of their careers. He said: “A lot of these guys are in their late 40s. In Phil's case, early 50s. Yeah, I think everyone in this room and they would say to you themselves that their best days are behind them.”
It's not the first time McIlroy has expressed his indifference to the field for the first event at London’s Centurion Club, but the Series has still attracted a number of players in their prime, including Dustin Johnson and Bryson DeChambeau. However, McIlroy feels that’s because they’re taking the easy option. He said: “I don't understand for the guys that are a similar age to me going because I would like to believe that my best days are still ahead of me, and I think theirs are too. So that's where it feels like you're taking the easy way out.”
For now, all eyes are on the US Open, a tournament that earned McIlroy his first Major victory in 2011. Back then, he won by a commanding eight shots over Jason Day, and there are encouraging signs going into this week.
The first two Majors of the year saw McIlroy show signs of his best. He finished runner-up at The Masters at Augusta National and posted another top-ten finish at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, finishing eighth. Together with that win at St George’s last week, he enters the tournament in good form, which he says gives him confidence he can do well. He explained: “It certainly puts a pep in your step. It gives you a lot of confidence. Going into last week, even coming off Memorial where I didn't have my best week, I still knew my game was there. I still knew that I was playing well, so regardless whether I got - I think it was the fashion in which I won last week was what gave me the most pride.”
As McIlroy tees it up against fellow PGA Tour players and newly signed-up LIV Golf Invitational Series players this week, he will be confident that his eight-year wait for his fifth Major may be about to end.
Video: Things You Didn't Know About Rory McIlroy
Mike has 25 years of experience in journalism, including writing on sports such as golf, football and cricket. Now a freelance writer for Golf Monthly, he is dedicated to covering the sport’s most newsworthy stories. Originally from East Yorkshire, Mike now resides in Canada, where the nearest course is less than a mile from his home. It’s there where he remains confident that, one of these days, he’ll play the 17th without finding the water. 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.