Rory McIlroy shot 8-under 64 Saturday in Round 3 of the Memorial Tournament, his last stop ahead of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock.
He was asked several U.S. Open-related questions after the round, including one about the USGA’s approach to course setup each year. In typical McIlroy fashion, he didn’t exactly take the politically correct approach.
“I think the USGA thinks that we’re better than we actually are, if that makes sense,” McIlroy said. “I think they overthink it. I think that, and I don’t want to single out (USGA Executive Director) Mike Davis here, I think it’s a collective thought process. We were talking about this yesterday. They sort of, I don’t think it should be as much of an exact science to set up golf courses as it is. I mean, get the fairways sort of firm, grow the rough, put the pins in some tough locations, but fair, and let us go play.”
McIlroy, who annihilated the field for an eight-stroke victory in the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional, said earlier this week that he favored tough tracks like Oakmont, Bethpage Black and Pebble Beach.
With Shinnecock, Pebble Beach and Winged Foot hosting the next three national championships, McIlroy believes the USGA doesn’t need to do too much to those courses. Just set it up as a tough track and let them play. As for recent installments, McIlroy said he thinks the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay directly impacted the setup last year at Erin Hills.
“It’s been a very reactionary few years to what happened at Chambers Bay,” McIlroy said. “I think they felt Chambers Bay was – Erin Hills was going to be similar to Chambers Bay. So they soaked it and made it really wide and all of a sudden 16 under par wins again and they’re like, um, what just happened? So I think they have to take previous results out of their head and just say, ‘Okay, let’s set up this golf course as best we can and just let the guys go play.'”
Considering McIlroy was on a roll, someone asked about his thoughts on the distance debate and reduced-flight golf balls for good measure.
“I don’t see it happening,” McIlroy said of a reduced-flight ball. “You look at somewhere like Hilton Head or Sawgrass – they’re short golf courses, but you get the greens a little firm and you grow the rough up a little bit, and then you put a premium on accuracy instead of on length and you have a tough golf course. Technology is technology. It’s not as if Formula One cars are getting slower. (Everyone) wants to be faster and it’s like telling the drivers, okay, please slow down, we don’t want you racing that fast. It’s the same thing with golf balls. So, I can’t see it happening. I wouldn’t want it to happen.”