Rory McIlroy is aiming for a second major world title this week in what he believes is a tournament tailor-made for his game, two months after he stunned the golfing world with his US Open victory.
World No. 4 McIlroy, who is a 12-1 favourite at the Atlanta Athletic Club’s PGA Championship, tied for third during his past two appearances in the final major of the season.
“This has been a good tournament for me the last couple of years,” a relaxed McIlroy told reporters on Wednesday while preparing for Thursday’s opening round.
“At Hazeltine (in 2009) I didn’t really have a chance to win; Yang (Yong-eun of South Korea) and Tiger (Woods) were a little far ahead of the rest of the field.
“But I felt last year at Whistling Straits I had a very good chance to win. It didn’t quite work out my way, but it was a great experience for me.
“I love how the PGA of America set the golf course up at this event. I think it really suits my game and puts a premium on ball-striking. I’m looking forward to get going.”
McIlory’s got an overwhelming eight-shot victory when he got his first major title at the Congressional Country Club in June, while playing on a rain-softened course which is suited for his high ball flight and power game.
“This golf course is in phenomenal condition, and the fairways are probably the best I’ve ever seen,” the 22-year-old said. “The greens are fast and you can’t really get the ball above the hole. It’ll be tricky from there.
“Most of all, it’s a straightforward golf course. Everything is out in front of you. You can make a few birdies around the turn and then you’ve sort of just got to hang on for dear life coming in.”
When asked if he could deliver the same dominant form he showed at the Congressional for this week’s championship, McIlroy replied: “I’m not sure. I’m playing very well. I drove the ball great last week. I’m hitting it nicely.
“I felt as if I got a really good practice round in yesterday, got all the greens mapped out. As long as I can hole a few putts this week, I feel as if I’m in with a good chance.”
McIlroy tied for six at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week, the first time for him and his caddie J.P. Fitzgerald to feel the hype die down since his U.S Open victory.
“We actually felt as if we were back to work, back to doing what we were supposed to do,” McIlroy said.
“It was a little bit of a whirlwind after what happened at Congressional but it’s nice to feel like you’re back out there and finally working hard again, focussing on trying to win golf tournaments.
“I’m still trying to deal with things, but trying to get used to a bit more attention. But it’s a great position to be in, and I’m here. I’m just excited about trying to win my second major.”