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McIlroy: Open will be a test

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO

Even though he has yet to play at The Olympic Club, Rory McIlroy already knows what to expect this June.

All he has to do is look at his scorecard from last year.

After a record-setting performance at rain-softened Congressional, the defending champion is counting on the U.S. Open to truly return to “golf’s toughest test” on the San Francisco shoreline. Just listening to USGA executive director Mike Davis explain the Lake Course’s layout Monday from three time zones away made McIlroy chuckle.

“I feel like I just played a practice round listening to Mike,” McIlroy said on a conference call from Charlotte, N.C., where he is playing in the Wells Fargo Championship this week. “I’m expecting this to be a tough and tricky test.”

So is everybody else.

McIlroy finished at 16-under 268 last year in Bethesda, Md., where rains dampened the course and created conditions that befuddled USGA officials. Twenty players turned in scores under par; seven total finished under par in the previous six national championships.

A repeat of those low numbers is unlikely.

At least that’s the USGA’s goal.

When players tee off June 14 in the serene setting across the street from the Pacific Ocean, weather should be dry in Northern California and the narrow fairways should be fast and fickle. That could turn an already demanding course known for its unleveled lies and tiny greens into a stress machine.

“We are incredibly bullish on how good a test this is going to be,” Davis said. “This is going to be a great shot-making course.”

The par-70 course will measure 7,170 yards.