PGA Championship: McIlroy 'feeling good' about game despite wait for elusive fifth major

By Sports Desk May 20, 2024

Rory McIlroy feels positive about his game despite a continued wait to win an elusive fifth major championship.

Xander Schauffele secured a maiden major victory by winning the PGA Championship at Valhalla, which was the venue for McIlroy's last major triumph in 2014.

McIlroy finished in a tie for 12th place and has often come close, recording 20 top-10 finishes in majors since winning his last, which is more than any other player during that span.

He had won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and the Wells Fargo Championship coming into the second major of 2024 and, despite falling short, still feels things are trending in the right direction with the U.S. Open and The Open Championship to come this year.

Asked about the state of his game, McIlroy said: "I'm feeling good about that.

"I have been on a big stretch of golf here. I think this was my sixth event in seven weeks. I've got a week off and then I'm playing another four in a row.

"I'm feeling good about my game. I feel like things are sort of clicking more, especially after the win in New Orleans. 

"Obviously played well last week in Charlotte. Have a week here to sort of reset and try to get going again."

McIlroy was in contention for glory after carding a five-under 66 on the first day at Valhalla.

But he ultimately finished nine strokes behind Schauffele, as a difficult 71 on day two was followed up with creditable scores of 68 and 67 over the weekend’s play.

McIlroy looked poised for another top-10 finish before finding the water twice on Sunday, but still emerged at four under for the day with seven birdies and three bogeys in an up-and-down final round.

He continued: "Obviously I started the week well, and then I've obviously played decent over the weekend.

"That six-hole stretch on the back nine [on Saturday], not being able to hole any putts, I'll probably rue that.

"Then the 71 on Friday, as well, was obviously not what I was looking for. Obviously put myself too far back. 

"Overall I am playing solid, game is in good shape, and I've got a week off and then another busy stretch coming up."

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    "I've had a lot of good discussions with my caddie Joe about course management and about trying to stay disciplined and patient.

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    Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy held the joint lead heading into day two after both carding five-under 65s on Thursday.

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    "I think this golf course is going to play very challenging over the weekend, especially with the forecast that we have," Cantlay told reporters.

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    Rory McIlroy believes he is in a "great position" as he sits within touching distance of the leaders after two rounds at the US Open, while Tiger Woods is set to miss the cut after a disappointing second round. 

    McIlroy ended Friday's action at three-under, keeping himself in contention behind Ludvig Aberg, Matthieu Pavon, Patrick Cantlay and a host of other big names.

    McIlroy, the 2011 champion, was among the early starters and bogeyed two of his first six holes to fall from the lead after starting on the 10th tee.

    However, he steadied the ship on the back nine and the leaderboard might have looked rosier had he not bogeyed his last hole of the day, the par-three ninth, having found the bunker.

    "I was not quite as good with the putter [compared to round one] but still, overall in a great position going into the weekend," McIlroy said to Sky Sports.

    "Some of the hole locations were definitely a little tougher and you sort of had to have your wits about you. I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard.

    "I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. I hit the ball pretty well and think I only missed one fairway, so I had plenty of opportunities.

    "I was two over pretty early. My goal going into that second nine was if I could get it back to even for the day, I would have been pretty happy. 

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    Aberg, Pavon and Cantlay were among the leaders as Friday's action drew to a close, with Bryson DeChambeau one shot ahead of McIlroy, alongside Thomas Detry.

    DeChambeau had a typically eventful round by mixing four bogeys with five birdies, the last of which saw him finish with a flourish on the 18th.

    Detry made a splash as he carded an impressive 67. At one stage, the Belgian held the lead after reaching six-under for the day through 14 holes, though he slipped back slightly with two bogeys in his last four. 

    Hideki Matsuyama went one better than Detry with a four-under 66 at Pinehurst No.2 to ensure he sits in the top 10 heading into the weekend, one shot behind McIlroy.

    Meanwhile, Woods followed up his opening round of 74 with a second round of 73, putting him on course to miss the cut at seven-over.

    One of the shots of the day saw Francesco Molinari avoid the same fate, though, as he sank a hole-in-one on the 18th when he required an eagle to make the weekend.

    PGA Championship winner Xander Schauffele is at one-under after posting a 69, but it was a tougher day for world number one Scottie Sheffler, who faces an anxious wait to see whether he made the cut after ending Friday five-over. 

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