U.S. Open chances: Can Rory McIlroy make it two in a row?

Leading up to the U.S. Open, we'll offer up our thoughts on some of the game's best players and their chances to win at Olympic Club. We continue with the reigning champ.

Rory McIlroy

His 2012 so far: Feast and famine. He's got a win (The Honda Classic), two second-place finishes and a third. He also has two ugly missed cuts, including The Players Championship, and in both he looked so lost you weren't sure he was holding the right end of the club. He righted the ship in Memphis, eventually finishing T7, and seems a lot more prepared for the big show than he did a week ago.

His record at the U.S. Open: Three Opens, and like much of the rest of his career, ultimate highs and total misfires. There was last year's astonishing win, of course, and a T10 in 2009, but in between he missed the cut. By that pattern, he'll be done early, right?

Why he could win: When he's on his game, there's nobody quite like McIlroy. Last year's performance at Congressional was one of the signature performances in U.S. Open history, and no one who observed it came away thinking that this kid was anything less than the future of golf. His shotmaking, his putting, his composure, it's the kind of once-in-a-generation combination that could make him the next, and maybe last, player to get within sight of double-digit majors.

Why he could fall short: McIlroy has a maddening tendency to check out on tournaments, missing shots he could knock down in his sleep when he's "on." And this can happen not just from week to week, but hole to hole. There's no more punishing test of golf than the U.S. Open, and one ugly hole like the 10th at Augusta in 2010 could derail Rory's hope for a repeat.

Our take: Not this year. He'll be solid, he'll be strong, but he won't throttle the field the way he did last year. Too many players are playing too well; Rory won't embarrass himself, but he won't bring home another trophy. Yet.

And you? What's your take on Rors' chances this week?