Gil Morgan has been where Rory McIlroy is now. In 1992, Morgan had a big lead heading into the weekend at the U.S. Open. At nine under, he was five shots clear of Raymond Floyd and Wayne Grady. In the third round, he reached 10 under at the third hole, the first player in U.S. Open history to do so, and made it to 12 under, with a seven-shot lead, by No. 7. Then the wheels fell off. He made three doubles and three bogeys from there to shoot 77, and he finished with an 81 on Sunday. Golf.com caught up with Morgan on Thursday, and here’s what he had to say.
Rory seems like a really nice kid. I was really disappointed with what happened to him at Augusta. He seemed to get caught up in that deal. But now, he’s really playing well this week. He’s gotten to be a really nice player, a genuine young man. That’s great to see.
For me at Pebble, the first two rounds I played very well. The conditions were very calm. It just didn’t seem hard for me. I imagine that’s what Rory is going through. For me, it just seemed to just kind of flow during the first two rounds. Then, the conditions were so severe as we went on.
When it starts going bad, you just can’t turn it around, no matter how hard you try.
For Rory, his experience at Augusta will really help him through this deal. By the way, we were playing Congressional for the 1976 PGA, and I led by four shots after 36 holes there too. But I didn’t play well on the closing days and lost.
At Pebble, I don’t know why it went south. The U.S. Open is a specialty-type event, the conditions are so severe — rough, green speed, etc. Then if the weather gets bad, it’s a whole lot harder. At Pebble, I got to 10 under, then to 12, then I hit what I thought were two good shots at 8 and made a double bogey. I should’ve understood better not to worry, but I didn’t.
I think that Rory has enough skills to handle the situation now. He’s hit so many greens. Rory is good at getting up and down, which he’ll need to do this weekend. Opens are built around recovery.
My advice to Rory would be to just keep playing your game. Keep trusting what you’re doing. Whatever Rory is thinking, if he can just maintain that, he’ll be fine. It’s a long tournament, and a lot can happen, so he’ll need to keep thinking all the way to the end.
I’d like to wish him a lot of success. I hope he achieves that.