Mm, Rory McIlroy – remember him? The guy who burst onto the scene a couple of years ago, culminating with a sensational 8-shot victory at the US Open? Well he’s doing it stateside again, with an exceptionally impressive first round in South Carolina on day one of the 2012 US PGA Championship.
The majors have not been the greatest of events for the Northern Irishman this year, it has to be said. Fortieth has been his highest finish in Augusta back in April; he only just scraped into the top 100 at the defence of his US Open Championship title and mustered only 60th at the Royal & Ancient last month.
Yet whilst everyone over The Pond has been questioning his lack of podium finishes, he’s still in the top three of the OWGR and fifth in the Race to Dubai. Okay, recent form hasn’t matched the start of the 2012 golf season on the European Tour. The first four tourneys returned two seconds, a third and a fifth.
He’s had to wait a long time in between for another top five finish, just last week at Firestone in the Bridgestone Invitational; the Irish Open provided the only other top ten finish (European Tour) between that burst out of the blocks and last week’s seeming return to something like world-class form.
Although they are still playing at Kiawah Island, Rory’s first round 67 looks to have put him in prime position for at least mounting a challenge. Indeed, only Carl Petterson, at time of writing, has shot below Rory’s tally, the Swede kicking off the last Major of the season with an opening 66, -6.
The Ocean Course has some exceedingly long holes, covering over seven and a half thousand yards in all; it has been these par 5s and long par 4s that Rory has handled with aplomb, three of his birdies coming on the par 5 16th and two 440-yard+ par fours, 6 and 10.
Factor in a clean round that saw not one single bogey and the only word to describe his aura at the end of the first round is “menacing”.
Will the number one spot swap hands again before the season is out? On this form, you wouldn’t bet against it, would you?
TTFN, Thet Watson. xxx
See inspiration on bleacherreport.com