Energised by the return of spectators, Rory McIlroy is confident he can end his major drought at this week's US PGA Championship. He 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.
Featured Groups for this week's #PGAChamp:
Patrick Reed pic.twitter.com/LGhNEUVbEp
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?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">May 18, 2021
"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."
2012 @McIlroyRory was electrifying.
The 23-year-old's banner campaign featured an 8-shot runaway victory at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island. 💪 pic.twitter.com/K5ydPypnmJ
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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."