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PGA Tour Confidential: Rory McIlroy wins 2011 U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy, 2011 U.S. Open
Kohjiro Kinno/SI
McIlroy fired a 69 Sunday, and shot under par in each of the four rounds.

WHAT, IF ANYTHING, CHANGED FOR MCILROY SINCE THE MASTERS?
Gorant: After the collapse at Augusta, what do you think the difference was this time around? Staying aggressive, feeling more comfortable, staying "in the moment," as they say?

Shipnuck: All of the above. Augusta was painful, but the bounce-back is remarkable. Hogan, Watson and Mickelson (among others) kicked away numerous majors before they learned to close. Rory's figured it out at age 22.

Garrity: He may say it's a maturing process, but I like that he stayed aggressive. I'm a firm believer that you can't protect a lead; you have to keep adding to it.

Godich: He kept attacking, but he played smart golf when the situation called for it. Look no further than the shot out of the rough at the third on Saturday. He might not have made par (it turns out that he did and almost jarred the shot from the fairway), but he wasn't going to make a big number. He just seemed so much more comfortable.

Evans: He learned some things about himself that he wouldn't tell us. Plus, I think Augusta is just a bigger stage and that brought out some more nerves in Rory.

Herre: Maybe Rory's a quick study and simply learned to stay in control, no matter what.

Morfit: Edoardo Molinari told me that he thought it was Rory's putting changes under Dave Stockton. Molinari said Rory just wasn't a good enough putter to get it done on the weekend until now.

Van Sickle: I picked Rory and Dustin Johnson to be in a Monday playoff (glad I was wrong about that, by the way) because I liked that Rory had gotten some perspective in his life by going to Haiti. He learned there, amid the poverty and destruction, that losing a Masters doesn't matter. And maybe winning one doesn't matter, either. If I had to pick one thing, though, it would be a putting lesson with Dave Stockton, the ultimate putting coach. Rory's stroke was solid, unlike past events, and I believe that worked through his entire bag and freed him up to play nearly flawlessly tee to green.

Dusek: Rory talked about setting small goals before the start of the third round, and again before the fourth round. He clearly wanted to stay focused and keep being aggressive, which he talked about in his press conferences. He didn't need four 65s, and the way he was striking the ball, there weren't any holes out there where he was in danger of carding a triple or another big number ... except maybe the 10th.

Mike Walker, senior editor, Golf Magazine: He's growing up before our eyes. Flamed out in the second round at the British. Hung around the lead at the PGA Championship. Held the lead alone on Sunday at the Masters. Won the U.S. Open. Fast learner.

Wei: I think he felt a lot more comfortable. He looked almost in awe that he was holding the lead going into the final round at Augusta. He got a little defensive. This time he had a different demeanor: cool, calm and confident. Loved that he kept firing at pins. I was next to the green on No. 10, and I really thought that was going in the hole. Then after he made bogey on 12, he took dead aim at a tucked pin on the par-3 13th instead of hitting it to the safe side of the green. Oh, and like Cam said, his putting. He believed every putt was going in, and it looked like they were.

Tell us what you think: What was the biggest change in McIlroy that enabled him to get over the hump and win his first major?

JASON DAY CONTENDS AGAIN
Gorant: Jason Day, 23, just snagged his second straight runner up in a major. Why doesn't he get the hype of some of the other 20-somethings out there?

Herre: He will, when he finishes one spot higher.

Morfit: I've been voting Day into our SI Top 10 for a while now. He's really coming into his own, and he's playing his best in the big events. That's a good quality to have.

Shipnuck: He will. He's a likeable kid with a flair for the dramatic. He got tons of hype about three years ago and then fell into the abyss. People have been waiting to see if he's for real. Obviously, he is.

Dusek: To the winner go the headlines.

Gorant: I don't know. Previous to this week, McIlroy seemed to get a lot more headlines with the same amount of PGA Tour wins. Fowler has also gotten more with zero wins.

Godich: Give Day time. He was also ninth at the Heritage, sixth at the Players, fifth at the Byron Nelson. Not a bad year.

Tell us what you think: Why doesn't Jason Day get the same kind of hype as some of the game's other young stars? When will he win his first major?

 

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