US PGA Championship: McIlroy feeling confident as Spieth seeks milestone

By Sports Desk May 18, 2021

Energised by the return of spectators, Rory McIlroy is confident he can end his major drought at this week's US PGA Championship.

McIlroy arrives in South Carolina buoyed by his drought-snapping victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.

Not since November 2019 had McIlroy reigned supreme on the PGA or European Tour but the former world number one ended his wait at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, however the 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship winner feels good heading into Thursday's opening round.

"I'm happy with where my game is, so I guess if I go out and play my game and do what I know that I can do, then I can see myself shooting good scores on this golf course," four-time major champion McIlroy told reporters.

"So that's sort of where I'm at. Whether that means I win or not, that's partly up to me, but that's partly on how the other 155 guys in the field play, as well.

"I've just got to go out there, play my game, and if I play my game somewhat close to the best of my ability, I'm sure I'll have a good chance."

Fans returned for the Wells Fargo Championship amid the coronavirus pandemic as McIlroy thrived en route to glory and there will be fans at Kiawah Island this week.

"It's funny, ever since I was 16 years old I've had thousands of people watch me play golf pretty much every time I teed it up. Even going back to amateur golf and. So then not having that, playing in that environment for 14, 15 years and then sort of going the complete opposite, it's just different," he said.

"I said at the time it was like playing practice rounds. It's easy to lose concentration. Everyone is used to a certain environment, whether you work or whatever you do, and it's a bit. I watched the Champions League semi-finals a couple weeks ago and those guys play in that for the first time in their careers and they're playing in an empty stadium. That just must be terrible. That's not at all how you dream of being in a squad like that and playing in a massive game.

"You want to play in front of people and you want to feel that atmosphere. It's unfortunate that in these times a lot of people don't have that experience, but I am glad that we're getting back to some sort of normalcy, and when you hit good shots and hole putts there is claps and rewards and encouragement.

"I feel like that's all a part of tournament golf and competitive sports at the highest level, and just happy that I'm starting to come back."

Another former world number one, Jordan Spieth, is eyeing a milestone at the PGA Championship.

Spieth, who ended his fourth-year title drought in Texas last week, can become the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam and the first to do so by winning a PGA Championship.

The three-time major winner, though, played down his career Grand Slam quest.

"I think as we get into the weekend, if I'm able to work my way into contention, I think it's something that'll obviously be asked and come up, and it's something that I certainly want," Spieth said.

"You go to a major, and for me at this point, I want to win the Masters as badly as I ever have this year. Didn't happen.

"I want to win this one as badly as I ever have. Once you move on to the U.S. Open, the same. Majors, that's what we're trying to peak for those.

"I feel like I'll have a lot of chances at this tournament, and if I just focus on trying to take advantage of this golf course, play it the best I can and kind of stay in the same form tree to green I've been in, all I can ask for is a chance."

Related items

  • Former U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie West to step away from LPGA Tour at 32 Former U.S. Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie West to step away from LPGA Tour at 32

    Michelle Wie West, the teenage prodigy who went on to win the U.S. Women's Open, has announced she intends to step away from the LPGA Tour.

    The Hawaii-born player, who burst onto the scene as a 10-year-old when she qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, will play just two more competitive events.

    Wie West, who gave birth to her first child in 2020, is now 32 and has only played once on the LPGA Tour this year, at the Hilton Grand Vacations Tournament of Champions in January.

    She will play the U.S. Women's Open next week and also next year, but that may be it for her as a professional golfer.

    "Excited to announce the next phase of my career as I'll be stepping back from playing on the @lpga_tour full time," Wie said on Instagram on Thursday. "I'm so grateful for the past 14 years I spent on tour, travelling the world and competing against the best in the game.

    "Excited to spend more time now on projects that I always wanted to do but never had time for and to continually work to help golf become a more diverse and inclusive space."

    She will work with Nike on golf projects and could yet one day make a playing return, but for now Wie West is done with the grind of the tour.

    "I don't have any regrets because I feel like I've always learned from every mistake that I've made," Wie West told Golfweek.

    "I feel like even if it was a huge major fail, at least it makes for a good story now. I think if I hadn't won the U.S. Open, I'd still be out there competing week to week trying to get that U.S. Open win."

    She said she felt "very happy in my decision".

    Tipped to be the Tiger Woods of the LPGA Tour as a teenager, Wie West was a record breaker during school, setting a series of impressive benchmarks and raising the profile of the women's game.

    At 14, she carded the lowest score ever by a woman competing on the PGA Tour with a 68 at the Sony Open, and turned professional just before her 16th birthday.

    Injuries hampered her progress despite a slew of major sponsorships, but she fought back in 2014 to claim her only major, in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst.

    Wie West won four other LPGA events during her career, most recently the HSBC Women's World Championship in 2018.

    Despite stepping away from the tour, she has refused to call it a retirement, adding: "I'm definitely not ruling anything out."

  • US PGA 'one that got away' for McIlroy US PGA 'one that got away' for McIlroy

    Rory McIlroy reflected on the US PGA Championship as "one that got away" after he failed to capitalise on a great start at Southern Hills.

    McIlroy led the second major of the year after carding a five-under 65 in his first round last Thursday.

    That proved to be a false dawn, as the Northern Irishman followed that up with a 71 in his second round and went in the wrong direction on moving day when he shot a 74.

    McIlroy finished with a 68 to take eighth place in Tulsa, where Justin Thomas beat Will Zalatoris in a play-off to take the title.

    It is eight years since McIlroy won the last of his four majors and he knows he missed a golden opportunity in Oklahoma.

    "Regrets? Yeah I regret I didn't take advantage of the benign conditions on Friday afternoon," McIlroy said in a conference call to promote the new GolfNow Compete App.

    "I regret the big numbers I made on the par threes on Saturday. The fact that I just needed to play the last 13 holes in one-under par to make a play-off on Sunday, and I didn't.

    "So, yeah, I definitely feel like it was one that got away. But, again, I have to take the positives – and the fact that eighth place in a major is absolutely the worst I feel I could’ve finished last week."

    The world number eight, runner-up in The Masters last month, is pleased with the progress he has made over the last year.

    "The first two majors of last year, I missed the cut at Augusta and I finished like 50th at the PGA," he said.

    "I just have to stay as patient as possible. I know that if I keep playing the golf that I'm playing the chances are going to present themselves and I'm going to give myself a few more chances this year, not just to win majors but to win golf tournaments in general."

    McIlroy has not spoken to Dr Bob Rotella about his performance at the US PGA, but says his mental coach has been in touch.

    "He sent me a nice text on Sunday night," he said.

    "There's a lot to be positive about where my golf game is now compared to where it was last year, it's miles ahead of that. I feel like the consistency is back in my golf game that really hasn't been there.

    "I feel like this year is very similar to 2019, when I had one of my best years ever and won four times, and I was PGA Tour Player of the Year."

    McIlroy will play in the Memorial, the RBC Canadian Open, the Travelers and the U.S. Open. He will then miss the Irish Open and play in the JP McManus Pro-Am prior to The Open at St Andrews, which starts on July 10.

  • DeChambeau withdraws from another tournament with lingering wrist injury DeChambeau withdraws from another tournament with lingering wrist injury

    Bryson DeChambeau has withdrawn from this week's Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas with a lingering wrist injury.

    The 28-year-old has slipped down to number 22 in the world rankings after an injury-plagued first half to the year.

    He has not played since missing the cut at the Masters in mid-April and undergoing surgery on his wrist a few days later.

    A return to action at last week's US PGA Championship looked likely, only for him to pull out of the second major of 2022 after taking part in a practice round on the eve of the tournament.

    DeChambeau's comeback has now been delayed further as he still does not feel ready to compete to the best of his abilities.

    "I'm definitely close but don't have the endurance for four full days yet. Getting there. Taking a bit of time to make sure it's fully healed," he wrote in a text to Golfweek.

    DeChambeau previously missed around two months earlier in the season through hip and wrist injuries and has missed the cut in three of his past four starts this year.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.