Rory McIlroy will take an aggressive approach to try and rescue his US Open campaign after slumping to an opening 77 here at Oakmont.
McIlroy completed his weather-delayed first round on Friday with bogeys at the last three holes to finish seven over par, equalling his worst ever score in the event which provided his first major victory in 2011.
The only good news for the 27-year-old was that Thursday's early starters would not start their second rounds until Saturday morning, after initially being given a start time of 8:54pm on Friday evening - two minutes after sunset.
“It was hard to get into any sort of rhythm and when you are not in control of your swing it was compounded by being so stop-start,” said McIlroy, who carded eight bogeys and a solitary birdie.
“Right now I need to focus on hitting fairways and greens. I think I hit five fairways and eight greens which is not going to do anything. I hit irons off the tee on the first three holes and missed three fairways. With the course playing so soft I might just hit a lot more drivers and be as aggressive as I can. The toughest thing is trying to stay positive and not getting down on myself.”
McIlroy has never won a tournament in the United States after an over par opening round, but could take some encouragement from American Andrew Landry, the world No 624, shooting 66 to record the lowest first round in nine US Opens at Oakmont.
“You see guys shooting in the red and there are scores out there to be had,” the four-time major winner added. “You really need to be in control of your golf swing though and today, or over the last two days, I haven't been.
“So I need to work on that, but there are low scores out there and if I'm able to get myself together I feel like I will be able to shoot one of those and I can stick around for the weekend at least. I need to shoot something like 66 in the next round to give myself any chance.”
Lee Westwood had four holes to play on Friday and completed them in two under par thanks to birdies on the eighth and ninth, the 43-year-old signing for a three-under-par 67, his lowest opening round in 17 US Open appearances.
“I've been playing well and was really looking forward to coming back to Oakmont,” said Westwood, whose tie for second with Jordan Spieth in the Masters extended his unwanted record of most top-three finishes in major championships without a victory to nine.
American Dustin Johnson - like Westwood, also seeking a first major title - also carded 67, while Spaniard Sergio Garcia, winner of the AT&T Byron Nelson in his most recent start, was among a group of three players on 68.
Among other golfing heavyweights in the field, defending champion Jordan Spieth opened with a 72, world number one Jason Day spluttered his way to a 76.
“Overall, I felt I played well,” second-ranked Spieth said after mixing two birdies with four bogeys on a challenging Oakmont layout where only 11 players in the field of 156 broke par despite the more receptive conditions.
“I felt like I didn't quite get rewarded with my score for how I felt like I played. A couple tough breaks. It's a U.S. Open. I'm still in it.”
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