Bethpage perfect for Rory

Bethpage perfect for Rory

Rory McIlroy has Tiger Woods’ Dubai Desert Classic title and even bought the same breed of dog as the world No 1.

But the kid with the labradoodle puppy wants to become a Yankee Doodle dandy on the toughest course in America and believes he has the long game skills to take Tiger's US Open title.

Set to take on the 7,400 yard slog-fest they call the Black Course at Bethpage, McIlroy said: “If I go out there and play the way I know I can, I will challenge. If it stays soft you can just bomb it. You pitch it on the fairway you can stop it.

“I am driving the ball the best I have driven it all year and that is a big advantage to have on this golf course. Fingers cross I can keep that up for the week.”

McIlroy is playing in just his third major championship this week and only his second since he turned professional at the end of 2007.

Normally, that would make him impossible to back in his first US Open but all bets are off when it comes to the young tyro from Holywood, County Down.

Already ranked 18th in the world, he was 20th on his Masters debut in April and has finished in the top-20 seven times since he succeeded Woods as Dubai Desert Classic champion earlier this year.

Heavy rains have made Bethpage play longer than a drive down the M50 at rush-hour but McIlroy is not intimidated by the course and even had a hair cut to make sure he is not on the receiving end of major stick from the normally loud-mouth New York fans.

On Friday joined the same canine club as Woods when he bought a labradoodle puppy - a cross between a labrador and a poodle - and named it Theo after Theodore Ernie Els.

He joked: “I got this labradoodle on Friday and I was looking a bit similar to it so I had a haircut.

“I was thinking of calling him Tiger. But Holly suggested Theo and we’ve gone with that. The hair has been cut because there's no way I was going to give the fans something to rib me about.

“They're quite vocal, which is great. It's great that the crowds get involved a little bit. Hopefully they will get behind me and give me a little bit of support

“It's nice when the crowds get involved, as well. And it helps this is a public golf course, and some of them have played it before."

The last player to win the US Open on his debut was American amateur Francis Ouimet at Brookline in 1913.

And while McIlroy knows it will be a tall order to match that feat, he sees no reason why he can’t become the youngest winner of the title for 96 years.

He said: “It is a big golf course and I do pretty well on big courses. I have got a lot of long and mid irons into the greens which I am very comfortable with.

“It does reward good ball striking and my ball striking has been very good over the last few months.

“Can I win on my US Open debut? I don't think many people have before. Last time was a long time ago but it is not impossible.

“If I go out and shoot four 68s I will have the trophy on Sunday. It is as simple as that. But shooting four 68s around here is pretty difficult.

“I could say to myself top-20 finish will be great. But I don't want to just finish in the top 20. I want to try and do better than that.

“It's all new for me still. So I don't quite know what to expect when Thursday comes or what way the golf course will be set up. But if I can go out and play the way I know I can, I know I'm able to shoot under par on this golf course.”

“On paper I am the 18th best player in the world so you have got to think that you have a chance. This is all new for me and a new set up of golf course. But if I go out there and play the way I know I can, I will challenge."