Strong Memorial finish gives McIlroy a U.S. Open fillip
REUTERS - World number three Rory McIlroy gave himself a timely boost for this month's U.S. Open by ending a week of superb putting and accurate driving with a four-under 68 in the final round of the Memorial tournament on Sunday.
McIlroy completed his 18 holes before play was suspended at Muirfield Village due to the threat of lightning and said the only area of his game that still needed some work ahead of the June 16-19 U.S. Open at Oakmont was his mid-iron play.
"I expect a little bit of a tougher test at Oakmont, I think, but I feel like my game's in good shape," the 27-year-old Northern Irishman told reporters after finishing in the upper reaches of the leaderboard with a 13-under total of 275.
"Off the tee I was really good this week, and I feel like my putting improved quite a lot.
"So all things considered, it's been a decent week. Time to get ready for Oakmont in a couple weeks' time."
Asked what he needed to work on as he prepared for the year's second major at Oakmont, McIlroy replied: "My iron play hasn't been great. I'm just not hitting the ball close enough to the flag with my mid-irons.
"I need to work on that a little bit, try to shallow out the plane a little bit. I've been getting a little steep with my short irons. That's what I'll be working on primarily from now until Thursday week."
The four-times major champion created a bit of a stir when he changed his putting grip for the Memorial tournament from the left-hand low method he employed when he won the European Tour's Irish Open two weeks ago.
However, McIlroy said it had not been a difficult decision to make the switch before adding: "I've never relied on my putting to play my best golf.
"Obviously, when you're winning tournaments, you need to hole a few putts, but ... I'd be way more comfortable changing my putting grip week to week than I would be trying to tinker with my swing or do something with my long game."
Earlier in the week, McIlroy explained why he had changed his putting style.
"I had 127 putts the week that I won the Irish Open, so it's not as if I putted particularly well that week," he said. "I won that golf tournament with my ball striking alone."
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)