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Rory McIlroy sees grounds for optimism despite early US Open exit

• Late run of birdies unable to prevent rusty McIlroy from missing cut
• Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood lead English charge

If Rory McIlroy was a racehorse, there would have been no logic at all in ranking him among the favourites for an event of equivalent significance to the US Open. As golf’s version of a performer who is lightly raced, McIlroy arrived at Erin Hills having played only 22 competitive rounds in 2017.

That figure increased by only two, McIlroy’s second-round 71 in the second major of 2017 proving insufficient to improve the damage caused by an opening round of 78. McIlroy at least departed in reasonable spirits, his run of four birdies in six closing holes providing a glance back towards what the four-time major champion is capable of.

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