Rory McIlroy believes he can attack many of the holes at The Olympic Club with his driver. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieRory McIlroy has vowed to go on the attack at the Olympic Club and battle to become the second back-to-back US Open champion in his lifetime.

The Northern Ireland ace was just six weeks old when Curtis Strange successfully defended his crown at Oak Hill in 1989.

But the 23-year old still confidently expects to challenge for his second major after bouncing back to form in Memphis last week following three missed cuts on the spin.

Determined to make an aggressive title defence, McIlroy said: “The last 12 months has been fantastic.  I felt like I played very well in that time.  And really looking forward to this week and giving it a good go in trying to defend.

“I reckon I’m going to use my driver eight or nine times and I’m coming in with the mindset that I’m going to attack the golf course and play aggressively when I can.  

“Obviously you have to be smart, but you’ve got to take your chances around here.  And this golf course gives you a few opportunities where you can make birdies.  

“There’s a few holes where you just have to settle for a par and be very happy with that.

“But the rough is not as bad as maybe in previous years and you can get away with some tee shots.

“There are holes like 18 where you just can’t go in the rough. It’s brutal.

“But if you miss it on other parts of the course you can actually get a decent lie and you can get a fairly simple shot to the green.”

Woods knows how tough it is to win the US Open two years in a row.

He won in 2000, 2002 and 2008 but finished tied 20th at Southern Hills in 2001, tied 20th at Olympia Fields in 2003 and sixth behind Lucas Glover at Bethpage Black three years ago.

Woods said: “This is probably the hardest test that we play all year.  What makes it difficult, I think, is that we’re playing different venues each and every year.  

“It’s not like Augusta National where we’re playing the same golf course each and every year.  We have to relearn a whole new golf course.”

That said, the 14-time major winner expects McIlroy to be in the mix this week after challenging for victory in the FedEx St Jude Classic on Sunday.

Woods said: “I think he’s coming off a tournament last week where he played really well.  I think that’s going to be great for his confidence.

“He had a few weeks where he didn’t play the way that he knows he can play.  But, hey, we all have those things happen.  

“But last week was good for his confidence.  He did some work at home, from what I hear, and went into Memphis and played great.  It’s going to serve him well this week.”

As for Woods, the title favourite is looking forward to the challenge of being forced to shape the ball both ways on a hard and fast course that features the toughest opening six-hole stretch in US Open history.

“I think this probably tests the player more than any other championship,” said Woods, who won his fifth Memorial Tournament and 73rd PGA Tour title just over a week ago.

“We have to shape the ball.  We have to hit the ball high.  We have to hit the ball low.  Our short game’s got to be dialed in.

“I just like a fast golf course.  Because then you have to shape shots.  You have to think.  You can’t set up and hit your ball to a number and have it plug.”

McIlroy insisted he felt comfortable shaping the ball from left to right but when asked how he’d changed over the last 12 months he pointed out that winning is now the only thing that matters.

“You’re not just happy with top 10’s anymore, and you’re not happy finishing in the top five,” McIlroy said. “Okay, it’s a good result, but it’s not what you want.  

“Maybe a couple of years ago it would be a step in the right direction and everything is good.  You’re knocking on the door.  

“But when you get yourself into positions like I did last week you want to finish them off and get wins.  So, yeah, it’s changed a little bit.”