The 30-year-old Northern Irishman heads to Hamilton looking to build momentum into the third major of the year and on the back of a disappointing performance at the Memorial Tournament.
Having missed the cut in each of the past three US Open events, McIlroy believes delivering a strong showing through all four rounds in Ontario will be crucial.
“This isn’t just a preparation week. This is a very prestigious tournament, one of the oldest tournaments in the world that I would dearly love to be able to add my name to,” said McIlroy, who claimed his first major triumph with victory in the 2011 US Open at Congressional.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about Hamilton and I’m excited to be here. It’s a very strategic golf course. You’ve got to put it in play off the tee, and I’m definitely going to have to drive it better this week than I did last week.”
McIlroy told reporters at a press conference: “I’m fully focused on this week, but knowing that if I play well here this week, and have good control of my ball and my distance control, that that will serve me well going into next week.” Defending champion Dustin Johnson will be another looking to make an impact through this weekend.
Johnson, though, is no longer working directly with long-time coach Claude Harmon III in a new set-up moving forward.
“I’ve always worked with coach [Allen] Terrell, I’ve always worked with Butch [Harmon] and Claude, so it’s not really a change,” said the American world No 2. Johnson played the last four Canadian Opens contested at Glen Abbey Golf Club but is ready for the challenge of tackling the shorter Hamilton course in a strong field which includes Scotland’s Martin Laird.
“It’s kind of an old school golf course. Got to hit it straight, but I like it so far, what I’ve seen,” said Johnson, who finished runner-up at the PGA Championship last month.