Rory McIlroy looking for a fast start at US Open, the GAA’s band of brothers

Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team

Rory McIlroy is hoping for a fast start in this week’s US Open. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

Rory McIlroy is hoping for a fast start in this week’s US Open. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

The US Open gets underway today at Pebble Beach, California, with Rory McIlroy - who last won the tournament in 2011 - bidding to end his five-year Major Championship drought. 30-year-old McIlroy heads into the week in fine form, after his stunning romp to victory in the Canadian Open last week - and he knows a fast start is vital later today if he is to be in the picture come Sunday night. He said: “The Majors that I’ve won I’ve started every single one of them really well and I think that’s sort of what’s held me back a little bit. If I can take that freedom that I played with on Saturday and Sunday last week and put that into tomorrow and get off to a good start, I’ll be hopefully right in the tournament from the get-go and stay there.” McIlroy tees off on the 10th alongside Jon Rahm and Marc Leishman at 3.51pm (Irish time) today, with Shane Lowry (4.13pm) and Graeme McDowell (4.13pm, 10th hole) - who also enjoyed strong weeks in Canada - the other Irish in the field. Brooks Koepka however will be the man to beat as he bids for a third US Open title on the bounce - he gets underway at 9.47pm, with the eight hour time difference meaning it will be a late finish for anyone watching into the night. You can follow the evening’s action via the Irish Times liveblog, which will be up and running from around 4pm.

Elsewhere in his column this morning Eamon Donoghue is keeping it in the family, as he looks at the sets of brothers who have been involved in the inter-county football and hurling championships so far this year. He writes: “In total this year there’s been 79 sets of brothers - between the football and hurling senior championships - on intercounty squads. The only panels which contain no siblings whatsoever are the Donegal, Limerick, Westmeath, New York and Offaly footballers. Lest we forget that in the 1982 All-Ireland final, when the last footballing five in a row bid was underway - Offaly included five sets of brothers on their team.” Two teams which have enjoyed a strong tradition of fielding sets of brothers are the Connacht duo of Galway and Roscommon - and for the latter, it has been an integral part of past glories: “Remarkably, in every one of Roscommon’s 21 Connacht final wins, a set of brothers has featured on the day.” That’s a run which goes all the way back to 1905.

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