US Open: The pick of the quotes from the challengers at Shinnecock

Golf
Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy can't wait to tee off at the US Open, while he acknowledges that victory for Phil Mickelson would be pretty special.

McIlroy happy with early slot

Rory McIlroy is anxious to get his campaign for a second US Open title under way after a lengthy spell of preparation ahead of the Shinnecock Hills event.

McIlroy, a 12/1 shot in Sky Bet's market (eight places) rented a house in the area for two weeks and made the trip east immediately after finishing in a tie for eighth in the Memorial Tournament in Ohio.

"I first played here in 2014 and it has definitely been a US Open I have been looking forward to," the 2011 champion said. "I love the golf course, especially with how the conditions have been. The wind and dryness remind me a bit of courses back home.

"I've spent quite a bit of time here and think I played 18 out of 19 days before taking a day off on Saturday.

"I came straight after Memorial and played a few courses in the area. I've had a bit of fun and a good few looks at this course and I'm looking forward to getting started tomorrow.

"I'm happy that I have an early tee time because it feels like I have been here a while and I'm anxious to get started."

McIlroy's victory at Congressional in 2011 saw him break numerous tournament records, but the four-time major winner's record in the event since has been mixed.

The Northern Irishman's best finish is a tie for ninth in 2015 and he has missed the cut the last two years, but added: "My game feels good.

"I have a win this year, which is great, and have got myself into contention quite a few times and I would love to do that again this week.

"It's been a while since I've been in the mix in this championship. Hopefully I can put myself in position to win."

McIlroy's victory at Congressional in 2011 saw him break numerous tournament records, but the four-time major winner's record in the event since has been mixed.

The Northern Irishman's best finish is a tie for ninth in 2015 and he has missed the cut the last two years, but added: "My game feels good. I have a win this year, which is great, and have got myself into contention quite a few times and I would love to do that again this week. It's been a while since I've been in the mix in this championship. Hopefully I can put myself in position to win."

McIlroy would love to see Phil Mickelson complete the career grand slam at Shinnecock Hills, with one crucial caveat.

"If I wasn't playing and just purely as a fan of golf, I'd love to see Phil win this week because it's great for the game," McIlroy said.

"Phil's had six runner-ups at this event [including at Shinnecock in 2004]," McIlroy added. "He's played wonderfully. It's just someone's played a little better at a certain week or maybe he made a mistake at the wrong time.

"It's not as if he's had a poor US Open record. His US Open record is incredible. This is another opportunity for him, as it will be for Jordan at the PGA, as it will be for me again next year in April again.

"I think you've got to go out and play the best you can and not think about what it means, just think about trying to win a golf tournament, which Phil has done 50-odd times in his career. He won for the first time in a few years earlier this year so his game's in good shape.

"It's a huge story in the game of golf. And as someone involved in the game, I think it would be really cool for that to happen. But seeing as I'm playing in the tournament, I'd rather beat him and not have that happen. But if it isn't me that wins this week, it would be a great story if Phil was to win."

Justn Rose with the Fort Worth Invitational trophy
Justn Rose with the Fort Worth Invitational trophy

Rose focused on victory

Justin Rose admits he cannot imagine a better scenario than winning a second major title to become world number one for the first time in his career.

Those are the prizes on offer for 2013 champion Rose in the 118th US Open at Shinnecock Hills, a product of ending last season with three wins amid 10 consecutive top-10 finishes worldwide and claiming a ninth PGA Tour title in Texas last month.

A runners-up finish in the following week's Memorial Tournament could have seen Rose move to the top of the rankings, but there is no doubt that a victory here on Sunday would make the 37-year-old the fourth Englishman to become number one - after Nick Faldo, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald - since the rankings began in 1986.

"I'm in the great position where becoming world number one going to be a by-product of winning this week," Rose said. "So I may as well just continue to focus on the winning. That's where the points are. That's where the fun is, to be honest with you.

"I couldn't think of a better scenario than to win a major and to become world number one. I could have finished second at Memorial and become number one so it's nicer to keep focus on the winning. It keeps things cleaner mentally. It keeps things simple.

"I don't know where any scenarios are this week. All I'm focusing on is winning major championships. That has been my dream as a kid.

"Being world number one is a really cool thing to say at some point in your career, but it's not my primary focus. My primary focus is winning the tournaments that will get me there."

The rain which continued to fall as Rose gave his pre-tournament press conference could give him and the other early starters an advantage on Thursday, with Tiger Woods and world number one Dustin Johnson among the later starters.

Johnson is a strong favourite for a second US Open title in three years following his six-shot win in Memphis last week, but Rose is vying with Rory McIlroy to be second favourite behind the big-hitting American.

"I think probably it's about right," Rose said. "I've been playing well. I've been playing solid golf. I've been on the leaderboard a lot. I'm comfortable with it. I'm number three in the world, past champion here. It makes sense to me.

"Does that mean it's easy to win? No. But the golf course doesn't know I'm second favourite and that's kind of how I try to approach these things. I've got to go and build a body of work. I don't start this tournament ahead of anybody or behind anybody.

"So I think that's the way I look at it, just trust my game, my skill-set, and hopefully it produces."

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