Rory McIlroy is on a hot streak, and the last major of the season is squarely in his sights. His driving, wedge game, and putting are all working together to defeat the best players in the world. After winning the WGC-Bridgestone on Sunday, Rory took the No. 1 ranking from Adam Scott, and hopes to continue his winning ways at Valhalla.
In the pre-tournament press conference, Rory said, “Game feels in really good shape obviously, and coming in here with a lot of confidence, and historically, the PGA Championship has probably been my best major.”
Rory won the PGA in 2012, and played well at Oak Hill last year (T8) when his game was beginning to show signs of improvement after a tough start to the season. McIlroy started 2014 with a couple close calls at the Dubai Desert Classic and the Honda Classic, but that all changed in June.
Over the last couple months, the wins have seemingly come with ease. First, at the BMW PGA Championship, and then at The Open and the WGC-Bridgestone.
With all the winning, McIlroy is making sure his mental game remains sharp. “[I] gave myself the day off yesterday, which I felt like I needed, just to recharge a little bit. I think, as you said, emotionally and mentally, it’s more fatiguing after you win tournaments than it is physically. So just to give your brain and give your head a day just to sort of rest is a good thing and get back into it.”
Rest off the course allows Rory to remain focused on the course. “I think what’s going through my head when I approach each shot is just that shot. That’s what I feel ‑‑ when I’m mentally at my best on the golf course, that’s what it is. It’s approaching every shot as if that’s the only shot you’re going to play that day.”
While McIlroy’s mental game is spot on, his length off the tee is garnering a lot of attention. “I’m definitely hitting it longer over the past couple years. I’ve started to work harder in the gym and I’ve got stronger in certain areas of my body, which I needed to.”
He added, “I’ve put on three kilograms of muscle in the last eight weeks, so that definitely helps. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been” (3 kilograms = 6.6 lbs).
Rory is a confident player who is easily the favorite this week. “I hit 16 greens on Sunday [at the WGC-Bridgestone]. So to hit 16 greens in regulation on a Sunday when you need to give yourself chances for birdies to come from behind, trying to win, that gives me confidence knowing that my ball‑striking is in a place like that where I can go and give myself basically a birdie opportunity on every hole.”
There are many birdie holes at Valhalla, so don’t be surprised if Rory runs away with another major.
–Bernie D’Amato (@bdamato711)