Rory McIlroy is as ‘close as ever’ to rare 5th major win at 124th U.S. Open 

Rory McIlroy returns to Pinehurst No. 2 this week for the 124th U.S. Open, 10 years after his last major championship triumph.

Before winning the 2014 Open and PGA Championships, McIlroy tied for 23rd at Pinehurst. But since then, McIlroy has come up short at majors plenty of times. He has 19 top 10s, nine top fives, and three runner-ups. Those are great finishes, but he still only has four major victories.

“Getting my hands on a fifth major has taken quite a while, but I’m more confident than ever that I’m right there, that I’m as close as I’ve ever been,” McIlroy said.

With two victories in 2024, McIlroy has gotten better as the season progressed. At Valhalla for the PGA Championship, he tied for 12th. Since then, he tied for 12th at the RBC Canadian Open and posted another tie for 12th at the Memorial.

Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy during a Tuesday practice round at the 2024 U.S. Open.
Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

This week marks his 16th U.S. Open start. In his previous 15 appearances, McIlroy made the cut 10 times. In his last five U.S. Opens, the Northern Irishman has turned in excellent performances. He finished second a year ago and then tied for fifth, seventh, eighth, and ninth in the four years prior. Before that, McIlroy missed three cuts in a row at this major.

“Explosiveness isn’t going to win a U.S. Open,” McIlroy said.

“I would say embracing the difficult conditions, the style of golf needed to contend at a U.S. Open, and patience. Embracing what I would have called ‘boring’ back in the day. Methodically building your score over the course of four days and being okay with that. It’s more reframing a mindset than anything else.”

He has missed the cut at a major just twice in the last five years: the 2019 Open Championship and the 2023 Masters. Outside of that, he finished outside the top 25 only three times.

But his major drought continues to grow older. Now at 10 years, the critics seem to be chirping louder than ever.

“I’m proud of my body of work over the past 15 years and everything that I have achieved, whether it be season-long titles, individual tournaments or majors,” McIlroy added.

U.S. Open, Rory McIlroy

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

“I want to win as many golf tournaments as I can. I want to try to compete and win as many majors as I can. I think the only thing about trying to pick a number is that you’re setting yourself up for failure or disappointment.”

McIlroy is still young, so he believes he has plenty of time to achieve more on the PGA Tour. However, changing his mindset in the last few years seems to have made him more appreciative of his career.

“If someone told me at 20 years old, I’d be sitting here at 35, and this is the career I’ve had, I would not have believed them, and I would have been ecstatic,” he said.

“I still like to think I’ve got a good run ahead. Whatever those numbers are, whatever the totals add up to, I’ll accept that and feel like I’ve done pretty well for a little boy from Northern Ireland who dreamed of playing golf for a living one day.”

For the first two rounds of the U.S. Open, McIlroy will play alongside the 2024 PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele and Scottie Scheffler, who has won five times already this season. The trio tees off Thursday at 1:14 p.m. ET and Friday at 7:29 a.m. ET.

Savannah Leigh Richardson is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. For more golf coverage, follow us @_PlayingThrough on all major social platforms. You can also follow her on Twitter @SportsGirlSL and Instagram @savannah_leigh_sports.

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