SOUTHAMPTON, NEW YORK | Rory McIlroy learns from his mistakes. He nearly missed his tee time in the 2012 Ryder Cup singles, only getting to the course with minutes to spare, thanks to an alert event official and a fast police car. So for the 118th US Open, where traffic is very heavy and journey times to and from Shinnecock Hills at the eastern end of Long Island can be three or four times as long as usual, McIlroy has played safe.
He has rented a house almost within chipping distance of the golf course. Well done Rory.
“I am three minutes door to door,” McIlroy said, trying not to look pleased with himself. “I have no problem (with traffic). I don’t know if we were very smart or very lucky. One of the two but whichever, we’re fine.
“I think anyone staying west of the golf course is going to get caught in that traffic, be it the Long Island Expressway, or Montauk Highway. It’s a very thin piece of land and people are trying to get out from the city. It’s a small piece of land and can only take so many people.”
The traffic has proved a talking point at the year’s second major championship and so has the presence of Tiger Woods competing in his 20th US Open but his first since 2015. And then there’s Phil Mickelson who will be 48 on Saturday and has his annual chance to win the US Open, the only major championship he has not yet won.
These storylines may have helped McIlroy, 29, by taking some of the attention away from him in the build-up to the event but it will return the moment he and Mickelson join Jordan Spieth, the 2015 US Open champion and the reigning Open champion, in their first-round tee time of 8:02 a.m.
Sounds like a marquee trio, doesn’t it? That is precisely what it is and McIlroy is not sure he agrees with it.
“I mean, I get what (the USGA) are doing and the US Open has always done that,” McIlroy said. “I think they were the first to put the first three players in the world together. You can put whoever you want together and any grouping is going to be exciting. I just don’t know if it isn’t a little bit too contrived for my liking.”