Rory McIlroy could be the man to watch at next month’s US Open as he aims to convert several recent top-ten finishes into tournament successes.
The 25-year-old former world number one struggled last year to build on his two Major successes – at the 2011 US Open and the following year’s USPGA Championship – slipping down the rankings after some disappointing performances.
However, there are signs that the Ulsterman is returning to something like his best form and the odds on him triumphing at Pinehurst in mid-June could well plummet if he continues to improve.
McIlroy finished in a tie for eighth at the recent Wells Fargo Championship, which was his fifth top-ten finish this year on the PGA Tour, but he admits he is desperate to do even better after completing his 72 holes six shots behind winner JB Holmes.
The world number 11 said: “I’m in the top ten every week and it is fine, it’s whatever. But it’s not wins.
“It’s another solid week. They’re top-tens, but they’re top-tens without getting in contention either.
“I don’t want to back door and top-ten it every week. It’s nice to pick up a nice pay-check but it doesn’t really get the adrenaline going.”
McIlroy has yet to win on the PGA Tour in seven tournaments so far this season but is the type of player who has shown he can win the Majors when his game clicks into place.
He added: “It’s not really what I want but it’s going in the right direction. I’m improving a little bit each week. Hopefully one of these weeks it will all come together.”
Another such player is Phil Mickelson who appears to be close to the kind of form that saw him win the Open Championship ten months ago.
However, he is still striving for more consistency in his game after carding a 29 on the front nine of his third round at the Wells Fargo Championship before going out in 37 on the final day.
His brilliant front nine on Saturday included an eagle and five birdies, but on Sunday Mickelson failed to shoot a single birdie, having just eight pars and one bogey as he eventually finished in a tie for 11th after a hugely disappointing 76.
“I had two great rounds and two pathetic rounds,” said the 43-year-old afterwards.
“I hit a lot of good shots. I was not displeased at all. I thought I drove the ball really well and hit a lot of great iron shots and, you know, it was on the greens. I just couldn’t get it in the hole.”
Mickelson has never won the US Open, although he does have five Majors to his name having triumphed at the Masters on three occasions as well as the 2005 USPGA title and last year’s Open Championship.
He has been the runner-up at the US Open on no fewer than six occasions – in 1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2009 and 2013 – and will be desperate to improve on that record this time.