It should be an interesting scenario for Rory McIlroy as the 99th PGA Championship gets underway at the newly designed Quail Hollow golf club in Charlotte this week. Even three-time major champ Jordan Spieth was noted in an article from CBS Sports by Kyle Porter following the WGC Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday afternoon saying:
“I’d say Rory is probably the guy to beat next week.”
The now 28 year-old Northern Irishman won the first of his 13 PGA Tour victories at the 2010 Quail Hollow Championship and followed that with a Wells Fargo Championship in 2015. Rory also has two Wanamaker Trophies on his resume from 2012 and his last major victory in 2016.
What we know after he finished T5 at the Bridgestone on Sunday is that when he is driving the ball well, he can win in spectacular fashion.
The driver was able the keep him high on the leaderboard at Firestone Country Club this week and he was rolling the ball well on the greens, all of which should help at Quail Hollow next week.
Where Rory was having his problems, was with his wedge game!
Quail Hollow, much like Firestone Country Club is a typical PGA Championship golf course that demands one be long and accurate off the tee, and that is where Rory may have the decided advantage.
Rory McIlroy will tee it up on Thursday at Quail Hollow with Rickie Fowler, who has had success at Quail Hollow where he won his first PGA Tour event and young Spaniard, Jon Rahm.
The new Bermuda greens at Quail Hollow will favor Jordan Spieth if the young Texan can drive the ball with any accuracy.
We saw him keep up at Firestone by hitting the proper sides of the fairways and good short iron play. Other than Thursday, Jordan Spieth couldn’t buy a putt and still finished tied 13th on Sunday afternoon.
Being raised in Texas, he loves Bermuda greens and will be a factor to complete the career slam by hoisting a Wanamaker on Sunday afternoon.
Jason Day is showing some life as well, and after finishing one, two in the two previous PGA Championships could be a factor this week.
His swing is looking good, and he seems to be getting back into the swing of things(no pun intended) since having his 2017 season interrupted with his mother’s health issues.
We all seen what he can do when he is at the top of his game two years ago when he beat Jordan Spieth by three shots at Whistling Straits and last year when he was narrowly beaten by Jimmy Walker at Baltusrol.
Day finished T24 at Firestone yesterday after a nice 66 on Friday that put him near the top of the leaderboard going into the weekend at the no-cut WGC event.
Many of the experts are excited for young Belgian, Thomas Pieters this week after finishing in solo 4th at Firestone.
Pieters had a nice Thursday and Saturday with a 65 and 66 respectfully, and although he is long off the tee and accurate, his demeanor can tend to short-circuit his golf game as it did on Sunday.
The player people need to keep an eye on is Hideki Matsuyama.
Matsuyama was money on Sunday at Firestone and was able to put the hammer down on Sunday to win going away by five strokes in a world-class field.
Although some came close, no player from Japan has ever won a major championship, and I think Matsuyama has the talent and nerves to be the first.
He takes over the FedEx Cup lead with his victory on Sunday.
And let’s not forget about the world number one player, Dustin Johnson.
DJ has not played exceptionally well since falling at his condo in Augusta ahead of the Masters, but he did win three outings in a row earlier in the season and looked to be close at Firestone.
He shot three of the four rounds in Ohio in the 60’s and finished T13.
So if Rory McIlroy is to win his third PGA Championship and fifth major championship at the “new” Quail Hollow this week, he will need to bring his A-Game to Charlotte.