• US Open

McIlroy believes wet conditions improve his chances

Alex Dimond June 11, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
Rory McIlroy enjoyed a joke with his father during his press conference © Getty Images
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Rory McIlroy is hopeful he can contend for the US Open this week, in conditions that remind him of his breakthrough triumph at Congressional back in 2011.

McIlroy, 24, has not been in great form in 2013 - but believes his iron play is finally hitting the heights as the year's second major rolls around.

With heavy rain in the Philadelphia area softening up the East Course at Merion, McIlroy believes conditions may help him launch another strong challenge for the title - after disappointing in firm and fast conditions at Olympic Club last year.

"It seems like every other year you get a firm [course] and a soft one and a firm one and a soft one," McIlroy said. "I didn't really enjoy the Olympic Club last year. I much prefer this sort of golf."

Asked about the best aspect of his game right now, the Northern Irishman added: "My iron play's good. It's dialed in. As long as I just put it on the fairway, I feel like I can take advantage of that."

The two-time major champion will play his first two rounds with Tiger Woods and Adam Scott, a marquee grouping of the world's three best players that its members all seem to be looking forward to.

McIlroy noted: "It's always nice to be a part of a group like that. It's something that I'm excited about, it's a good thing.

"I like it because you're in a group like than there's a lot of buzz and a lot of atmosphere around it and it gets you focus from the first shot."

McIlroy has recently been subject to a number of the off-the-course rumours about a split from his management agency, with Graeme McDowell seeming to spill the beans about an impending departure from the agency they share at Wentworth last month.

Reports indicated the relationship between the two close friends had strained because of that, but McIlroy insisted that is not the case.

"It's as good as it's always been, I guess," he said. "I haven't really spent much time with him. We played together at Wentworth a couple of weeks ago and then I think he's taken a couple of weeks off. But, yeah, it's always as good as it's always been."

The legacy of Ben Hogan's famous one-iron at Merion back in 1950 has led many players to be asked about their history with the hard-to-hit club this week.

McIlroy revealed he has never used a one-iron - but does not reckon it can be that hard.

"There is no history [of me using a one-iron]," he said. "I know what a one-iron is.

"I think my dad might have had a one-iron but it was a Ping Zing, something like that. So if he can hit one, I should be able to!"

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Alex Dimond is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk