OAKMONT, Pa. – Rory McIlroy has made a habit of feasting on soft conditions in his four major championship victories.
But Friday at Oakmont Country Club, it was the course that ate McIlroy's lunch in the first round of the 116th U.S. Open.
The No. 3 player in the world closed his rain-delayed opening 18 holes with four straight bogeys to shoot a round of 7-over 77, putting him 11 shots off the lead.
"Whenever you're not really in control of what you're doing out there and struggling with your golf game, it was sort of just compounded by the fact that it was so stop and start," he said. "I think for me, the toughest thing is just trying to stay positive and not get too down on myself."
McIlory and his playing partners fed off each other in a negative way. Masters champion Danny Willett shot 5-over, while Rickie Fowler carded a 6-over 76 as the threesome was a a combined 18-over.
"Honestly, I've been struggling with my swing," McIlroy said. "Even the practice rounds a little bit. I know what I'm doing, but it's hard to change it out there. It's been hard to give it any sort of time this week to work on it."
McIlroy's biggest problem Thursday and early Friday was his inability to hit fairways. He hit just 5 of 14, despite using an iron off the first three tees – missing the fairway all three times.
"With the way the golf course is," with it being so soft, I might just go out there in the second round and hit a lot of drivers and try to be as aggressive as I possibly can be," he said.
That opportunity won't come until Saturday morning. McIlroy is scheduled to tee off for his second round at 8:39 a.m. As for whether there's an advantage for those playing 36 holes Saturday or those who might be forced to do so Sunday, McIlroy didn't really seen one.
"No matter how soft this golf course is, it's always going to be hard," he said.