TULSA, Okla. ( Associated Press) — Rory McIlroy was 25 when he hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy on his head and looked ready for a run in the PGA record book.
He won the 2014 PGA Championship for his fourth major title and it was open question how many more lay in the Northern Irishman’s future. He snatched the trophy on his own as he nearly fell to the ground during a clumsy hand in the presentation, he also snatched the top.
But eight years later, McIlory joins this week’s PGA Championship Still looking for a surprisingly elusive fifth major win in the Southern Hills.
Not that McIlroy’s game has collapsed. He has 20 career Tour victories, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking twice and starred in Ryder Cup victories for Europe. Individually, they married and had one child.
And he comes this week with some serious pace and a boost in confidence after a blitzkrieg of final-round 64 at the Masters Which put him in second place behind Scotty Schaeffler. It was his best performance in a major in four years.
He said, ‘I like it all. “I’m definitely in a better place with my game than I was this time last year” going into the PGA Championship.
McIlroy has won the PGA Championship twice. His major eight-stroke victory at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island in 2012 was a tournament record, breaking a mark set by Jack Nicklaus in 1960. Valhalla’s victory in 2014 saw Phil Mickelson beat Phil Mickelson by one stroke.
McIlroy noted on Tuesday that in his last few big wins, it was a big start that left the pack chasing him until the end.
“You can’t plan on getting ahead,” McIlroy said. “It is something that happens when you play well and get some momentum. You are feeling it.
“It’s not like I went out with the mindset that I’m going to go into those four tournaments and shoot 65 in the first two days and let all of them come and catch me. It just kind of happened,” he said.
Those results also helped McIlroy draw up a map to see where some of the other victories were found. Second Round at the Masters Stands out last month.
“The things that have kept me from getting into contention or being able to win these big companies are the huge numbers and getting myself out of it,” McIlroy said. “(Augusta) I went to bogey, double bogey on 10 and 11. On Friday. You go there evenly and suddenly those three shots are there. It doesn’t take much in major championships. It’s a small margin.”
He barely got through the weekend in the second round of 73 at the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, before finishing fifth again.
So look for the cautious and conservative McIlroy in the Southern Hills. Play it safe, and play for par to be in contention at the end.
McIlroy said, “Tiger (Woods) has done this for most of his career, and well, he had some big wins there, but being too conservative with his strategy at times, allowed other people to make mistakes. ” “Pars is very good at major championships, and that’s the kind of philosophy I believe in moving forward.”
McIlroy is trying to keep things as loose as possible. He showed no sign of internal pressure to win that elusive fifth Major and insisted on at least some of the intensive, detailed pre-tournament preparation in the Southern Hills.
“I’ve won a few major championships where I’ve played nine holes on Tuesday, nine holes on Wednesday and got it right and played really well. Sometimes not knowing where the trouble is, ignorance is bliss in some ways ,” McIlroy said. “I’ll execute the preparation any day.”
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