US Open: Why Tiger Woods isn’t playing while Rory McIlroy attacks early

Tiger Woods missed the US Open but Rory McIlroy started well

Tiger Woods missed the US Open but Rory McIlroy started well (Pictures: Getty)

Rory McIlroy has made a strong start to a US Open missing the three-time winner Tiger Woods, with Northern Ireland’s Star One, shot off the lead after the first lap at Brookline.

McIlroy, who won the 2011 US Open, would have been level with first-round leader Adam Hadwin had he not fallen short of 18th place.

But it was an impressive start to his US Open bid nonetheless, as he carded three under par 65s to join England’s world No. 445 Callum Tarren, Sweden’s David Lingmerth, American Joel Dahmen and South Africa’s MJ Daffue. to be second.

Canada’s Hadwin stays ahead after making six birdies in a four-under-par 66.

McIlroy, a four-time Major winner, finished runner-up in the Masters earlier in the year and looked in fine form on day one at Brookline.

But the 33-year-old admitted he “had a hard time not getting frustrated” during the round as he twice threw one of his racquets in anger.

“You’re going to encounter things at a US Open that you don’t really encounter in any other week,” McIlroy said.

Canada's Adam Hadwin leads the US Open

Canada’s Adam Hadwin leads the US Open (Image: Getty)

“It’s hard not to be frustrated because I’m going up there and I’m like, ‘Just come back to the bunker.’

“The thickest rough on the course is at the edges of the bunkers. So I kind of cursed the USGA for going to the ball, but it’s one of those things.

“It happens here, it doesn’t really happen anywhere else. You just have to accept it.

“I took a couple of shots into the sand because I’d already messed it up, so it wasn’t like it was a lot more work for Harry (Diamond, his caddy) and then I just backed up and played a decent bunker shot. and then it was really nice to pot that par putt.’

One player McIlroy does not have to beat at this year’s US Open is 2000, 2002 and 2008 champion Woods, who confirmed earlier this month that he would not be playing in the 122nd edition of the tournament.

The 46-year-old played at the PGA Championship in May, made the cut but was eliminated on a 79 in the third round.

“I have previously informed the USGA that I will not be competing in the US Open as my body needs more time to get stronger for major championship golf,” Woods posted on social media.

“I hope and plan to be ready to play at the JP McManus Pro-Am and The Open in Ireland next month. I look forward to being out there again soon!’

Meanwhile, Brad Faxon and Rich Beem praised McIlroy after he got off to an encouraging start in his bid for a fifth major title and first major title since 2014.

“He continued his great putting streak like he had in Canada last week where he putt brilliantly,” Faxon, who is part of McIlroy’s coaching staff, told Sky Sports.

“I think he played with fire and inspiration. We saw some anger when he played and I really think that bogey on the last will probably help him.

“It will allow him to stay a little bit upset and maybe play with a little bit more passion.

“We know how much this means to him, especially as he’s the poster boy he is around the world, so adding another national title to his CV would be pretty good!”

Former US PGA Champion Beem added: “I have to say it was a class performance from McIlroy, especially after the win in Canada last week. Not perfect, not spectacular, but really solid from tee to green.

“You never knew exactly what to expect when you go out and play like you did last week. How do you keep that momentum?

“He came out and did exactly what he needed to do, made some really nice par saves early on but kept the momentum going with a couple of birdies on the front nine and just really played a solid round.”

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General Sports US Open: Why Tiger Woods isn't playing while Rory McIlroy attacks early

Nate Jones

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