McIlroy's visit to disaster zone puts Masters meltdown into perspective

The time has arrived for Rory McIlroy to see if he can hit straight back from the most crushing disappointment of his young golfing life in the majors.

But if anything was going to put what happened to him at The Masters in April into perspective, a trip to earthquake-hit Haiti on the eve of this week's US Open certainly fitted the bill.

The 22-year-old Northern Irishman was described on his website as being in a sombre mood on his departure after floods and landslides led to the deaths of more than 20 people.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

McIlroy, appointed a Unicef Ireland Ambassador in March, went on his first field trip to see the aid efforts for himself. He met pupils from a school destroyed by last year's earthquake who are now being educated to protect themselves from cholera and visited a play area set up by Unicef in a safe environment.

An emotional McIlroy said: "The chance that these children are getting to be kids and enjoy themselves is so important for their well-being. Nothing could prepare me for meeting the children in Haiti and I am truly amazed by how happy they are. The everyday things that we take for granted at home in Ireland are so longed for in Haiti."

It all made McIlroy appreciate more what his talent has already given him and now he hopes it will take him to a first major title two months after a closing 80 at Augusta that at the time seemed so devastating.

Four ahead with a round to go, he finished ten strokes behind Charl Schwartzel and at Wentworth recently McIlroy spoke of how much it hurt to see his South African stablemate wearing his green jacket up on stage at the European Tour awards night.

The young Ryder Cup star went from Haiti to the course near Washington for an early look at the course where the season's second major champion will be crowned. After his first round he wrote on Twitter: "Saw Congressional for the first time today. Great golf course, gotta draw the ball a lot so hopefully that will suit me!"

And after completing his trip he added: "Two days at Congressional were great! Got all my prep done so I can put all my energy into Thursday-Sunday next week!"

He has been paired in the opening two rounds with two Americans who can easily relate to that last day in Augusta. Dustin Johnson led last year's US Open at Pebble Beach by three after 54 holes, but triple-bogeyed the second hole and double-bogeyed the third en route to an 81. And Phil Mickelson, of course, had no fewer than 17 top-ten finishes in majors before he finally landed the 2004 Masters. While Mickelson has added three more majors, this will be his 21st attempt to capture his national Open and, since his debut in 1990, he has suffered some agonies at it.

Like Colin Montgomerie, the left-hander double-bogeyed the final hole to lose by one to Australian Geoff Ogilvy at Winged Foot in 2006. He was also second to Payne Stewart in 1999 at Pinehurst - Stewart, who died shortly afterwards in a plane accident, sank a 15-foot putt on the last - to Tiger Woods in 2002 at Bethpage Black, to Retief Goosen at Shinnecock Hills in 2004 and to Lucas Glover back at Bethpage two years ago.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

There is no Woods this time, but the main battle they face - as always, in fact - is with themselves.