McIlroy enjoys flying start to set pace at PGA Championship
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Rory McIlroy may or may not be victorious at the US PGA Championship this weekend but his old Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley is certain another Major is in the pipeline. The winds that came sweepin’ down the plain in Oklahoma on Thursday as McIlroy prepared to set out on his second round rendered predictions for Southern Hills treacherous but regardless of the outcome in Tulsa, the relaxed intensity McGinley has seen in his former charge convinces him McIlroy’s eight-year drought is about to end soon.
The stardust the Northern Irishman sprinkled in his opening 65 at Southern Hills, hot on the heels of the Sunday fireworks that brought him a runner-up finish at the Masters, took McGinley back to the McIlroy skippered at Gleneagles against the USA in 2014 when he had the golf world at his feet.
“I’m getting giddy now about McIlroy. If he doesn’t win this week there is another Major Championship coming soon because I really do think he is on the right tracks here and he just looks the real package to me. I have observed him so much over the years and I can see a different energy,” said McGinley.
“We haven’t seen him lead a Major Championship for any round since his last Major win in 2014 until this. It was vintage McIlroy and what he was like during that peak period in his career.
“He took the golf course and wrestled it to the ground off the tee – it was a phenomenal exhibition of driving. I think he had ten drives of 320 yards or more and made the golf course play short even though it is a very long golf course. And he followed it up with some brilliant short game and particularly putting.
“What was so impressive too was the way he did it and the body language he exuded doing it. This was comfortable.
“It was a guy knocking Tiger Woods off the perch a little bit and Jordan Spieth with the other shoulder – ‘I’m here guys. Watch me go.’”
McGinley believes the work McIlroy has done with veteran American mental coach Bob Rotella – who has in the past worked in the corner of Major champions Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke – has changed his outlook and freed up one of the most naturally gifted golfers on the planet to again play to his true potential.
“I really believe the Masters this year and that last round was an ‘ah-ha’ moment for McIlroy. It was like: ‘ah, that’s what Bob Rotella has been telling me.’ I’ve got the result to validate it and now I really believe in it. What we have seen here is that belief,” said McGinley.
“What Bob has brought to the party has been an unburdening of expectation.
“I don’t think those poor first round Major scoring averages were because he wasn’t prepared or because he was nervous, I think they were because he was burdened by the expectation on his shoulders. A lot of the work that Bob Rotella has been doing with him has been about taking that away.
“The energy is there and there is a poise about him.
“I’ve never been as buoyed about Rory winning a Major Championship in the last seven years.”
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