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Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Rory McIlroy   (Getty Images)
Rory McIlroy (Getty Images)
Rising star Rory McIlroy believes he is two years away from being ready to win a Major but the World Number Ten will start this week's US Open Championship feeling he has a chance.

With a maiden victory on the US PGA Tour last month at the Quail Hollow Championship and an impressive top-ten finish on his US Open Championship debut at Bethpage Black last year, the 21 year old from Northern Ireland has both the form and the track record to suggest he is a contender for victory at Pebble Beach Golf Links this week.

Yet asked how close he was to winning a Major Championship, McIlroy was more modest.

"I hope I'm not too far, I probably would be more comfortable answering that question if I had a few more wins under my belt," McIlroy said.

"I've got to be going into this tournament thinking that I can win, that I have a chance to win.

"I feel as if my game's in pretty good shape and if I can get myself into position going into the weekend I should have a good chance.

"But maybe in a couple of years I'll hopefully be a bit more advanced in my career to say, 'yes, I think it's time that I'm ready to win a Major'."

McIlroy added that a Major breakthrough was not high on his priorities in his third season since turning professional.

"There's no rush right now," he said.

"I'm just looking to win my next PGA Tour tournament or European Tour event but it would be great to get a good run this week and at least put myself into contention.

"I finished third at the (US) PGA last year and I got a good feel about what it's about and hopefully I can do that again this week."

McIlroy, who will play the first two rounds with 1982 Pebble Beach winner Tom Watson and Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, is making his first trip to famous Monterey Peninsula course.

Despite commenting that the course was "a lot easier on Playstation" he likes the way both the California links and the US Open Championship set-up suits his game.

He added: "It's a spectacular golf course. I think the way they have set it up this year is really good.

"If you just miss the fairway you've got a good chance of hitting it on the green, but you miss it by a little bit more and you're going to struggle.

"The golf course has got firmer and firmer and I got here Monday and yesterday it was even harder and today it will probably be a little firmer again.

"So it looks like it's going to be a pretty firm golf course all week and it's going to be a really tough test and you're going to have to hit it really well around here if you want to score."

The Northern Irishman said he had learned from his Bethpage debut that another key to success at US Open Championships was patience but then admitted that that virtue was not necessarily a strong point of his.

"I'm probably not that patient, but there's just some weeks where you got to accept that you have to be," he said.

"You just have to wait a little bit and you have to bide your time and this is definitely one of those weeks.

"I think coming into the US Open you are mentally preparing yourself for what you're going to face.

"I know on Thursday I'm probably going to hit it in the rough a few times, I'm going to miss a few greens, but it's how you deal with that, how you handle it and hopefully you did the best and make the best of that situation and move on to the next.

"So I wouldn't say I'm a naturally patient person, but this week I'm having to be."

One person who would not be surprised to see McIlroy’s name on the leaderboard come Sunday is Ian Poulter.

“He for sure can contend this week,” said the World Golf Championships – Accenture Match Play winner.

“He's got great ball flight, the greens are obviously going to be very firm this week, he hits it very high, he hits it long, he likes to shape the ball, and that I think suits this golf course on a number of tee shots. 

“He can work it right to left and left to right to kind of stay away from trouble and he's been working hard on his putting, and when he putts very well, he runs close. So he's just very, very good, very, very young - and it's not often you see that.”

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