Golf / Sports

Golf offers an escape for McIlroy

PINEHURST, N.C. -- It takes a unique mind-set to break off a highly publicized engagement at the beginning of a week and win a golf tournament at the end of the same week. But then again, Rory McIlroy is a unique player.

McIlroy announced on May 21 that he had broken off his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki, to whom he had become engaged Dec. 31. Five days later, he hoisted the winner's trophy in the BMW PGA Championship in England, his first victory of 2014.

The 25-year-old Northern Irishman hopes to employ the same steely focus at the U.S. Open starting Thursday at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club's No. 2 course.

"It's nice when you get out on the golf course, because you're got five hours when you're just out there with your clubs and your caddie trying to shoot the best score possible," he said Wednesday. "That's the approach that I'm sort of adopting from now until whenever.

"There's been times this year when my golf has been really good, and I've felt like it's been close to the point where I can win major championships again. I just want to focus on that and focus on golf. Golf has sort of been a nice release for me the past few weeks."

McIlroy, winner of the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA, is looking forward to firm and fast conditions at Pinehurst No. 2 but would be all right with a little rain, which happened Wednesday and resulted in the suspension of the final practice rounds.

"I'm mentally prepared for a firm and fast test," he said. "But if it rains a little bit, it might make things a tad easier for me."

TWO FOR THE SHOW

For the first time in the history of U.S. Golf Association championships, the U.S. Open and the U.S. Women's Open will be competed on back-to-back weeks over the same golf course.

Given all the traffic this week on the course with practice rounds and competition, some LPGA players are worried that Pinehurst No. 2 will be in less-than-pristine shape next week, littered with divots and showing bumps and spike marks on greens.

USGA executive director Mike Davis met with LPGA players in March to address their concerns and called the atmosphere in the room a positive one.

"When you go out on the golf course right now, it really is not bad," he said Wednesday. "Will we see players getting in divots this week? Yes. Will we see them getting in divots next week? Yes. That's part of the game.

"In a lot of ways, this next week is going to be showcasing women's golf. That's one of the reasons we wanted to do it. I certainly am a big believer that most golfers do not realize how good these female players are. It's going to be neat to see them on the same iconic golf course here at Pinehurst."

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