BARONSBURG, England – “This is a huge year.”
That was the assessment of one of the UK’s top golfers, Rory McIlroy, as he entered the opening round of the United States Open on Friday.
It was the first time in his career he had played a major championship match in England, and he had also qualified for the PGA Tour’s annual championship at The Players’ Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The tournament in St Andrews, Scotland, is the first of its kind and McIloy, who has played the course on a regular basis since he was a boy, was hoping to emulate the British Open in terms of how it was played.
The 17-year-old, who is in the last year of his contract with the British and Irish Open, is a member of the British Royal family and played at The Royal Troon Club in Stroud in the 1970s, when it was known as the Stroud School.
McIlroy’s tour manager, Ian Stirling, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to play in the US and we are thrilled Rory is on board.”
McIloy is the only British player to win a major, the Ryder Cup, in 18 years, and it is a privilege for the American to play against him in the United Kingdom, a country he calls home.
McElroy, who was also a four-time US Open champion, was joined on the main course by compatriot Rory McBeth, the American who had his last major victory on Thursday.
McBath said the US Open has “a lot of prestige in it”.””
The British Open is a special venue and I have enjoyed watching Rory over the years and I am thrilled to be playing in this venue.”
McBath said the US Open has “a lot of prestige in it”.
“It’s a special opportunity for him to play a top player like Rory, who’s an incredible competitor and it’s a big opportunity for me,” he said.
McElligott is a regular in the American Open’s media day, but has been largely absent from the main event.
The former England captain said he was looking forward to playing at a “big” venue, and said the opportunity to “play on the same stage as Rory” was a “dream come true”.
He said: “”It’s fantastic to be a part of the US open.
It’s one of those events where you get to play at a big venue and be part of it.
“It’s great to be in this great country.”
McElligan was on course for a third straight victory on Friday when he lost to Rory Mcbeth, a record he set at the 2012 PGA Championship.
He has now lost seven of his last nine major victories, which included his first major at the 2013 PGA Championships.