Rory McIlroy had more than just his US Open Championship title defence to prepare for today – there was also a trip to the baseball.
Not just to watch the San Francisco Giants, but to throw the ceremonial first pitch before their game against the Houston Astros.
The 23 year old Northern Irishman, an eight-stroke winner at Congressional Country Club last year with a record 16 under par total, is now trying to become the first player to retain the US Open Championship title since Curtis Strange in 1989.
Of the moment he became a Major Champion for the first time, McIlroy said: “It's been a great 12 months. To play these 12 months as a Major Champion and get to deal with everything that comes along with that has been a great experience.
“Last year at Congressional it was great to get that monkey off my back – if you want to say that – very early in my career. The last 12 months have 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.”
McIlroy said his big decision for the baseball was “whether to lob it or go for a fast one”.
He added: “I’ve thrown a few golf balls out on the course today and a medicine ball in the gym last night, but I think I might get a bit of a lesson from a pitcher when I get there.”
As for the possibility of the crowd jeering him for his effort, he said: “I would definitely rather be booed at a baseball game than on the golf course.”
Come Thursday, the World Number Two – who will tee up with the men either side of him in the Official World Golf Ranking, England’s Luke Dionald and Lee Westwood – is planning on a more attacking policy than he first thought.
After practising with Westwood and Graeme McDowell, he said: “I reckon I’m going to use my driver eight or nine times.
“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.
“This golf course gives you a few opportunities where you can make birdies. The rough is maybe not as bad as in previous years because you can get away with some tee shots, so really you just need to know your way around the golf course and know where you can miss it.”