19.59 – Getinthehole! Rory McIlroy is making final preparations – as we liveblog – for his fourth round at Congressional and what will probably be his final step towards major glory.
The Holywood 22-year-old is set to tee off in around 20 minutes. I’ll be honest, no one this side of Chubby Chandler has more riding on this – I backed him on Thursday morning.
Send us your thoughts/concerns/observations in the usual ways.
20.02 – Sky Sports are hyping this thing big time – like only they can. They have me so worked up, if I didn’t have to talk to you guys I’d be running around the room at the stage like a Fanta-filled child.
Monty says he needs to get in his own world and picture in his head what he needs to achieve. That advice can be applied to a lot of things in life I find.
20.08 – Rory’s all smiles on the practice range – and why wouldn’t he be. Meanwhile, Steve Stricker is making a bit of a move carding his third birdie today. He and Henrik Stenson are on -3.
20.10 – So as we watch McIlroy looking pretty damn chilled out on the practice range with YE Yang, here’s the leaderboard at the moment.
Lee Westwood is about to tee off too.
20.16 – Mr Ian Poulter offers his thoughts through the medium of Twitter. “I think Rory will press on today and win by 10 at least I hope so. He is the player everyone was talking about a few years ago. Brilliant.”
I wonder if he has an obnoxiously dressed laptop.
20.20 – For those wondering what McIlroy is about to play – here’s our hole-by-hole guide to Congressional. We even had Monty shouting at us for taking pictures.
20.21 – YE Yang is up in bold red trousers and a white Le Coq Sportif polo shirt. He means business.
20.23 – Rory’s up with a three wood. And, to a cacophony of ‘Getintheholes!’ it’s quite perfect, apart from a awkward lie in a divot.
As he tees off, Monty wishes him luck from the rest of Britain. It’s gonna be a long night.
20.26 – Fredrik Jacobsen goes to -5 meanwhile. Those who read John Duggan’s tips on Thursday morning will remember he was amongst the chose few.
20.28 – McIlroy gives himself a very ‘makeable putt’ with an excellent second shot.
20.31 – Great, great start. McIlroy birdies the first, increasing his lead – he’s now -15.
And that’s not a typo.
20.36 – The Sky presenters are now quoting Snow Patrol.
The leaderboard is soundtracked by Lightbody et al, before the commentator whispers: just say yes.
20.38 – Butch Harmon is purring – and that’s not something I like to see usually.
He uses the term coronation again however and if he keeps this up it certainly will be.
20.40 – What of G-Mac? Well, he’s on the march too. Three birdies in four holes and he’s now onto -3.
These golfers are like buses eh?
On the second, Rory makes par, holing a really important putt.
20.45 – McIlroy goes into right rough though you can see some white on the ball. He has three pars previously on this par 4 hole.
20.47 – He gets it out of there and that word is used again: safety.
Much has been made of the advice McIlroy received from Jack Nicklaus in the wake of the Masters. It looks like he’s going to take that on board tonight and try to get around safe and sound.
20.50 – Okay that’s 15 holes to go folks. He two-putts it to tick off another handy one.
20.53 – According to NBC, McIlroy and Westwood were talking mostly about rugby over dinner last night , according to @JosephARosen, via Balls.ie.
As Yang (the Yangster) prepares to tee off from the fourth, one American spectotor informs McIlroy: ‘youre gonna win boy!’
They both get off okay despite the little distractions.
20.59 – I’m just scanning the copy coming in from the AP. There’s some interesting quotes from a couple of the Tour’s big dogs.
“You can tell that Rory has had this type of talent in him for some time now, and to see him putting it together is pretty neat to see,” said Phil Mickelson. He had shot 71 on Sunday and ended up 7 over. And who said this?
“What is he, 22 years old? If you are going to talk about someone challenging Jack’s record, there’s your man.”
Padraig Harrington. “Winning majors at 22 with his talent, he would have 20 more years … where he could be competitive. It would give him a great chance,” he added.
In the meantime, McIlroy wedges a glorious shot to perfection.
21.03 – Do not adjusts your sets – McIlroy goes -16.
How long can he go – and I don’t mean in the Baz Ashmawy kind of way. Butch Harmon reckons -20 is achievable, he also made a funny noise.
What do you all think out there in computer land?
21.06 – So how did he get there… Yang settled for par and stays at -6. McIlroy’s birdie putt was dead center, he now has an incredible 10-shot lead.
Lay Leno’s bookers are already on the phone.
21.10 – You’ve got to love Westwood. The Englishman is not giving up though he’ll probably be a mere footnote in an historic night once again.
Here’s your leaderboard (did I mention I have McIlroy backed since Thursday. I think I did).
21.13 – McIlroy drove his tee shot on No. 5 into the fairway bunker but he’s rescued it with a pretty sensible shot. As long as he stays out of people’s back yard this time out he’ll be sound.
As Harmon says, he just needs to avoid big numbers.
21.17 – He makes it, keeping that three-putt stat going! What’s the verdict form the grandstand? Youdaman, Rory!
21.19 – Everyone’s on the Rory bandwagon tonight it seems. US comic and golf nerd Norm McDonald has been on board for some time now. His latest tweet: “Rory and the golf course now. I don’t know what the others are playing for but its not the US Open.”
21.21 – Westwood’s in the drink at 6 meanwhile. He started really well but earlier failed to hit his relatively-easy birdie putt on 5.
21.25 – I don’t know why you’re here with me – we’re all in the wrong place.
Check out the scenes at Holywood Golf Club -and this is at the first hole. (Pic: AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
21.27 – On the sixth, McIlroy hits into the rough on his tee shot at the par 5. He’ll have to pitch up, no decision to be made here. He birdied the hole on Thursday and Friday and parred it yesterday FYI.
21.30 – The door may be closed at this stage but just so you know , Day, Yang, Jacobson and Westwood are tied for second at -6.
The Yangster™ and McIlroy lay up on the par 5 and each have handy approaches.
21.33 – Oooh, he got away with that one. That ‘handy’ approach shot I mentioned while typing form my couch in my pyjamas almost ended in the water. Or as Angel Cabrera roared yesterday: Agua!
He got away with it though drawing gasps from the gallery and gantry. It might remind him – as if he needs it – that this is not a done deal.
21.38 – McIlroy’s long birdie putt – after that water let-off – is two feet off and he gets a par. Yang seals his birdie to go -7 and cut the lead to single digits. McIlroy’s tee shot on the next is excellent.
We’re back on track.
21.40 – Charl Schwartzel won the Masters when he came up on the rails on the final day at Augusta. He’s enjoying today too making four birdies now, at 5, 7, 10 and 13.
21.43 – And what of the football I hear you ask. Well England are out of the U-21 European Championships. One up through a Danny Welbeck goal with two minutes left, they ultimately lost 2-1.
21.45 – Yang’s birdie slides by on No. 7. McIlroy comes up less than an inch from another birdie and taps in for par. He stays nine shots in front of his playing partner, with 11 to play. Jacobsen, elsewhere, has joined Yang at -7.
21.47 – Betfair have been in contact to say that someone backed the Czech Republic to score in last play of game to win 2-1; at a maximum price of 999-1. That makes my tenner on Rory seem piddling in comparison.
21.55 – Sergio Garcia is smiling at last as he bags a birdie at last, moving to -5.
21.59 – “You don’t play this well, even on Playstation” says Monty. He should come around here and have a game of FIFA.
I also imagine he said that with his eyes closed in that unsettling way of his.
After playing it safe on the eight meanwhile, it’s another arrow down the fairway for McIlroy on the par 5, No. 9.
22.02 – Let’s check in on the lads in Holywood GC meanwhile. I expect the mood is yet brighter.
What about ye now, lads?
Pic: Peter Morrison/AP/Press Association Images
22.05 – Sensibly, both Yang and Rory layup on the par-five ninth.
22.08 – Wonderful putt from Yang first. He in second on his own now after a bogey-less front nine.
McIlroy two-putts for par which is safe, canny, sensible. Mainly it’s clever.
22.16 – “There’s an aura about Tiger Woods, it’s very, very rare do you find something beyond that and Rory’s getting there. There’s no question that the next Major that’s played he’ll have that aura about him and around him.”
That was Colin ‘Monty’ Montgomerie not Derek Acorah, moments ago.
22.19 – It’s a case of slowly-slowly catch monkey.Yang and McIlroy send their third shots to 12 feet on No 9. Yang rolls his into the cup for birdie; McIlroy is happy with par.
22.20 – And then he does that… McIlroy plays an incredible shot to within feet of the flag on the 1oth. That sound you hear is the door closing on any hopes the rest of the field might have harboured.
I wonder if Tiger’s watching at home.
22.21 – And he taps in to take the ovation from an electrified grandstand. He’s at -17 now, which sound ridiculous.
22.24 – I mentioned that a certain late-night chat show will already be on the phone but the Guardian’s excellent golf writer Lawrence Donegan has just tweeted the following:
Bad news 4 Letterman. “Rory doesn’t want to do it and I’m not interested in flogging him around American chatshows…” – McIlroy’s agent
22.27 – By the way in the wake of that from McIlroy, Yang made his shot too. He’s been a class act too but has been over-shadowed by his playing partner over the past few days.
22.30 – Another ‘handsome’ tee shot on 11. Monty reckons he’s safe and can free-wheel.
The American yelps are getting a little wilder at the tee box but it hardly matters now.
22.36 – Masters champion Charl Schwartzel has finished with a 66 while Yang has just landed in the water.
McIlroy steps back from his shot and we hear his caddy telling someone ‘not to sit on the bottle’. His subsequent effort is excellent.
22.42 – Peter Hanson goes into a tie for third on -7. Monty mentions ‘his Ryder Cup team’ again.
McIlroy two putts to tick off another hole.
22.48 – Hanson hasn’t lost his sense of hunour thankfully. After four-putting he offers us a Thomas Brolin-like fist pump for the gallery.
The grandstand at Congressional seems to appreciate the irony. In general though the Europeans (aka Monty’s Ryder Cup team) are on the march.
Sergio notched a a second successive birdie on the par-three 12th but Henrik Stenson has halved the shaft of his club on the 15th, cutting his hand it seems.
22.57 – G-Mac dots a full stop on his year as US Open champion, finishing -2. If he has to hand over his crown (and he does), he’ll enjoy handing it over to his good friend McIlroy, you imagine.
Nevertheless, he delivered a really stout defence of his title this weekend.
23.01 – The Irishman’s eight-footer for par misses. His first bogey means he’s now at -16 and the lead is back to eight strokes. Only eight strokes.
23.07 – The Sky guys are really pulling out the stops with the Northern Irish music. First we had a clunky outro which referenced Snow Patrol. Now Van Morrison’s distinctive singing voice is complemented by the awful sign-off, ‘Rory’s staying on the bright side of the road’.
What’s next? Duke Special plus At the the last Major tournament, Rory nearly died but…
Or, The Undertones: Rory’s may have a perfect cousin, but he’s playing pretty well himself…
I give up.
23.13 – McIlroy’s had a few flirtations with cok-ups in the past while but has managed to keep moving.
Yang’s 50-foot birdie putt is two-feet long on No. 13. Then the Irishman’s birdie effort flies past about four feet. He makes it on the way back, avoiding back-to-back bogeys.
23.20 – Butch Harmon is really into this. The brutish, old school swing coach sounded like a fainting, Victorian debutant just now as McIlroy almost dropped one in.
Both he and Yang make par and move one. This is a procession.
23.22 – Low amateur winner is the 19-year-old Patrick Cantlay of the US. He looks like the kid who broke my wing mirror with his NERF ball.
23.27 – On No. 15, McIlroy arrows one down the left side of the fairway. G-Mac’s in the Sky studio. In the meantime, here’s the leaderboard:
23.30 – G-Mac on ‘that curly-haired kid’ Rory:
“This is how you should carry yourself, even when things went wrong at Augusta. He’s great for the sport and an amazing player. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here; this isn’t a monkey off his back, it’s a gorilla.”
23.33 – From around 70 yards out, McIlroy’s approach lands about 15 foot from the pin. He should take his final few shots from an open top bus.
23.40 – Yang is in a battle now for second while McIlroy’s lead is up to nine again. As the BBC reports:
“The enormity of what McIlroy is achieving out there looks like it’s just starting to sink in. He’s on course to have the lowest winning score in US Open history. Tiger Woods currently holds that crown at -12. He’s looking around, drinking in the atmosphere.”
And well deserved it is to – but he might want to keep his head in the game for a bit yet. As G-Mac talks up his friend’s driving, Rory drags it left towards the car park. He can afford it.
23.44 – Either Rafa Nadal is looking for a new flat-screen or he’s impressed with McIlroy’s performance too. (via PaulDollery)
He should teach his pal Sergio how to stroke a ball properly if you ask me. Garcia would be well up the leaderboard if he could putt this weekend.
23.51 – Rory’s going to putt for birdie here after another wonderful approach shot.
JP the caddy is getting some love now from the TC guys. He did of course, ship a lot of criticism after the Masters trauma. And, if I’m honest, the thought crossed my mind again when Rory bogeyed the last, foolishly, on Thursday. He’s done the business since though.
23.53 – Gerry McIlroy is interviewed, stage left. “He’s been very determined. After the Masters, he’s really went to work on his game, and he’s improved a lot. He’s learned a lot from the Masters and he’s improved his game.
“You have to stay calm til the whole thing is over, I’m sure it’ll be great if it all works out.”
Happy Father’s Day eh? He’s back to – 17
0.02 – McIlroy now on the green with a long, long birdie putt. Blow it up ref, willya!
0.05 – Garcia signs off with a 70 and a smile. Rory moves onto the 18th. Boom!
0.16 – Via Will Downing on the Twitter: “When Rory McIlory win’s the US Open tonight, his career earnings will be $11,140,585. He’s been a pro for just 1,370 days. $8,132 a day.”
Aren’t we all on a similar rate when you factor in stolen biros?
0.21 – Rory McIlroy walks down the final fairway, taking the plaudits from a wild-sounding Congressional crowd.
He’s waving his cap and, like the entire weekend, keeping his head down.
0.23 – Professional wrestling guru Shane McMahon is with Gerry McIlroy again. The WWE heir welcomed Rory off the course in Augusta; he’s bought into Chubby Chandler’s ISM company, which represents the 22-year-old.
0.27 – “What about Northern Ireland?” Gerry McIlroy asks G-Mac as they embrace, “bck-to-back!”
Rory steps back as Yang looks to finish with a flourish. He leaves it right on the rim. It’s been a wonderful effort form him.
0.28 – His next action is to shake the hand of the US Open champion – Rory McIlroy knocks it in.
He hugs his dad and wishes him a Happy Father’s Day. It’s better than a novelty tie, I suppose.
0.33 – Butch Harmon staring at the camera will haunt my dreams.
0.38 – He’s gotten his hands on the trophy, offers it a little kiss and it’s stright into the first for many internviews:
“I could’ve holed a couple of more putts today. The whole week has been incredible. I’m just so happy to be holing this trophy.
“I know how good Tiger was to win by 15 at Pebble, and I was going out there to emulate him in some way. I couldn’t be happier.
“Augusta was a very valuable experience for me. I knew what I needed to do today to win and Augusta abnout muyself and my game and I put a few different things into practice. And it payed off.”
0.44 – Monty’s gone for a flight, Bob Costas has done his thing for the networks and Butch Harmon is still talking into a plugged-out camera: it’s time for bed.
Thanks for company, thoughts and commentary. Let’s do it again soon.
We’ll be back bright and early with plenty of reaction and a fresh pot of coffee. Do join us then