McIlroy rolling it well heading to Congressional

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt at the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Finca Cortesin last month. (Photo Eoin Clarke/Golffile 2011)Rory McIlroy appears to have found a magical putting touch in the nick of time for next week’s US Open challenge at Congressional.

The Holywood star, 22, finished a brilliant fifth behind Steve Stricker in the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village on Sunday.

And he was delighted with his form with the wand as he finished broke the 30-putt barrier in all four rounds and finished third in the charts for putts per green in regulation and seventh for putts per round.

No wonder the world No 7, now Ireland’s highest ranked player, is excited about his chances of challenging for what could be a maiden major victory on Sunday week..

“The game is in good shape. I feel really good about it,” said McIlroy, who has worked with American short game coach Dave Stockton since his frailties on the greens were exposed in April’s Masters. “My putting has been very solid the whole week, so you know, that’s a huge positive to take into the US Open.”

McIlroy needed a sensational final round to close a five-stroke gap on Striker and almost pulled it off as he played the first eight holes in four under par.

But Stricker was just too good and McIlroy was left to rue his many mistakes over the four rounds as he closed with a four under 68 to finish five shots behind.

While he made an eagle and 23 birdies in 72 holes, the two time tour winner also had 10 bogeys and two double bogeys.

And he knows he must cut out those errors if he is to have any chance of breaking his major duck in Washington DC next week.

McIlroy said: “I made a lot of birdies and I feel as if I drove the ball really good and putted the ball really good this week.

“The game is in good shape and I feel really good about it. I just made a few too many mistakes, which really cost me.

“We’ll have to try and cut those out before the US Open but there are definitely a lot of positives to take from how I’ve played this week.”

McIlroy’s ISM handler Stuart Cage tweeted this picture from Haiti - “In Haiti with @McIlroyRory and UNICEF. The people here are incredible. The happiest kids I’ve seen at their new school.”McIlroy headed to Haiti yesterday for a two-day trip as a UNICEF ambassador, where he visited a school and got a taste of what the charity organisation does for children in the disaster hit nation.

But he plans to practice at Congressional tomorrow and Thursday before spending the weekend at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, consistently voted the world’s best course as well as one of golf’s most exclusive private clubs.

Upbeat about his chances, he said: “Congressional has the same setup as Muirfield Village and I like those sort of golf courses. So I’m looking forward to it.”