SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. â€“ There are certainly plenty of perks if youâ€™re Rory McIlroy. The former FedExCup champion has elicited jealousy amongst the hundreds of thousands of golf fans who will converge on Long Island this week for the U.S. Open when revealing his preparations. After finishing up at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide 10 days ago the 2011 U.S. Open champion heading straight for Long Island – but not just to play the stunning Shinnecock Hills that hosted the 1896, 1986, 1995 and 2004 national championships and will again this year. Rather than just grind at the host course â€“ which is already one many would pay an arm and a leg to play – McIlroy concocted a schedule that is the envy of many casual golfer. In an effort to add fun to his pre Open prep McIlroy took friends to play at local gems like The National Golf Links of America, Friarâ€™s Head and Garden City Golf Club. â€œFor maybe five or six years, I never played fun golf. It was all to do with getting ready to play tournaments, and I didn’t understand people that went out and played a lot,â€� McIlroy explained. â€œBut basically, it’s been since my dad became a member at Seminole, and I was able to go over and play a lot of golf with him, that I really started to enjoy fun golf again and playing these different courses. â€œIt’s a real treat to be able to show up at any golf course in the country or the world and get out and play it and have a bit of fun.â€� After playing the BMW PGA Championship in England and then the Memorial McIlroy said heâ€™d played 18 of the last 19 days. Even on Saturday, the day he didnâ€™t play, he walked around Shinnecock with his wedge and putter for a little more reconnaissance. But the last 10 days had recharged him, rather than drain his energy levels. â€œIt does put you in a different frame of mind. You’re relaxed out there, and maybe that sort of bleeds into your mindset whenever you’re here in a big championship,â€� the 14-time PGA TOUR winner said. â€œIt’s no different. I think that’s the thing. If I’ve got a shot that I need to execute under pressure here this week, it’s no different than playing that shot when I’m out there playing with my dad or my buddies. â€œSo obviously, there is a separation of the two, but the more you can get into that mindset of being relaxed and enjoying it, the better you’re going to play.â€� Playing fun golf also allowed McIlroy to use his imagination a little more. Having won the Arnold Palmer Invitational Presented by Mastercard this season and having put himself in the final group Sunday at the Masters, McIlroy comes to Shinnecock confident. â€œI’m hitting the ball well. I’m playing well. Especially in the wind and the conditions that are around here, you sort of get used to the different ball flights,â€� he said. â€œAnd especially in some of the golf courses I’ve played, you’re seeing different shots, and you’re having to use a bit of imagination around the greens. So it’s been quite good in that way. â€œIâ€™m just looking forward to getting started tomorrow. I’m happy I’ve got an early tee time. It feels like I’ve been here for quite a while, so anxious to get started tomorrow. It should be a great week.â€�
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