McIlroy an all American hero

Rory McIlroy tees off at the 11th in practice. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ieAmerican idol Rory McIlroy wants to do some heavy lifting in the US PGA that will leave stablemate Lee Westwood light on major wins.

The pair want to hoist the 27lb Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday night but while Westwood is the king in the gym, US Open champ McIlroy reckons he’s got some major power on his side - the US crowd.

As he prepares to move to America next year, McIlroy will be cheered like a home winner even if he extends America’s barren run to a record seven majors in a row and leaves the Stars and Stripes without a major winner in a season for the first time in 17 years.

McIlroy said: “I get a great response from the crowds. I feel like the reception I get over here is like an American player.

“It’s nice to have and it’s great to feel I’m playing in front of people who really support you but I feel as if I get that all over the world. I’m very lucky to have that support.”

With the first three majors of the year coming from Chubby Chandler’s ISM stable, title favourite McIlroy wants to be the man to complete the ‘Chubby Slam’ at Atlanta Athletic Club.

And he’s convinced that he’ll be ready to produce his best golf as the hype created by his eight-shot US Open win dies down.

Believing he’s ready to perform again, he said: “My caddie and I were saying it last week - we actually felt as if we were back to work, back to doing what we were supposed to do.

“It was a little bit of a whirlwind after what happened at Congressional, but it’s nice to feel like you’re back out there and finally working hard again, focusing on trying to win golf tournaments.”

After snatching third place in the US PGA for the last two years, the world No 4 believes it’s the major best-suited to his game.

And that’s why he’s feeling confident that he could be the player in the 10-strong ISM stable to complete the Chubby Slam this week.

He said: “I feel when I get to these big tournaments, I feel comfortable and as if I’ve got a great chance.

“I’m playing very well. I drove the ball great last week, I’m hitting it nicely, I felt as if I got a really good practice round in yesterday, got all the greens mapped out.

“I just need to putt a little bit better. If I hit it this week like I hit in Akron, hole a few putts, I think I’ll go very close.

“You’ve got to drive it well, you’ve got to hit your irons well but it gives you a chance as well.

“They want you to make birdies here, they want you to go under par and I like that about this tournament.”

McIlroy knows that Westwood is desperate to break his major duck this week after watching the young gun and Darren Clarke join Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and last year’s Open winner Louis Oosthuizen make the breakthrough.

He said: “Lee’s working hard.  He really wants it as bad as everyone else.  He’s maybe got a little more motivation and determination after what’s happened the last couple of months with people close to him winning majors.  

“He’s very focused.  He’s always very focused, and I am sure he’ll give it another good run this week.”

McIlroy worked alongside Westwood in the gym last week and tweeted that he was impressed to see the Worksop man pumping iron.

He said: “He dead-lifted 355 pounds, which was pretty impressive, very impressive.”

McIlroy’s record is “maybe 230, 240” but he reckons he’ll have no problem lifting the 27 lb Wanamaker Trophy.

Westwood is 6 feet tall and weighs nearly 15 stone compared to 5 foot 9 M, who’s only just over 10 stone.

He joked: “Body weight ratio to weights lifted, it’s pretty close relatively.”

If he wins the US PGA, he’ll show who’s the true heavyweight.