Rory McIlroy Trying to Temper Expectations in 15th PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy admitted that he’s desperately trying to temper expectations. The two-time PGA champion is coming off a disappointing missed cut at last month’s Masters, took some time to decompress and is back this week at Oak Hill, looking to capture his fifth career major. He tied for eighth place here at the 2013 PGA.
McIlroy, 34, admitted that he still feels like he’d have a successful career if he never wins another golf tournament, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t badly want to win this week in Rochester, his wife Erica’s hometown.
“Just sort of trying to sort of be in a good spot with taking what comes and not thinking about things too much, not getting ahead of myself,” said McIlroy, playing in his 15th PGA Championship. “Just trying to go out there, play a good first hole of the tournament, and then once I do that, try to play a good second hole and just sort of go from there.”
The world No. 3 played two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship and tied for 47th place at Quail Hollow. It was his only start on the PGA TOUR since the Masters in early April. He wasn’t pleased with that result either, which is why he has worked diligently on his swing over the past 10 days.
“If I can execute the way I feel I know that I can, then I should be okay,” he said.
McIlroy opened with a 65 last year at the PGA at Southern Hills to take the first-round lead, but ultimately finished in eighth place, three shots behind winner Justin Thomas. A third-round 74 was his downfall.
This week, McIlroy stopped short of calling it a home game because his wife grew up nearby. He’s familiar with the area, loves it, has been here many times and says that it has more of a Midwest vibe than it does anything from New York City. But he hasn’t spent all that much time at Oak Hill and really started to prepare for the championship in earnest a couple days ago.
“I got a lot of support out there yesterday in the practice round, and yeah, I certainly know this area probably a little better than most of the people in the field,” he said. “Hopefully that support will help me and give me some momentum as the week goes on.
“Erica has sort of taken on the burden of pressure, getting everyone tickets and things like that, so that's been her department this week.”
That leaves McIlroy to only focus on attempting to win his third PGA and first major championship since the 2014 PGA at Valhalla.
“I expect to go out there,” he said, “and if I can execute the way that I feel like I can, then I still believe that I'm one of the best players in the world and I can produce good golf to have a chance of winning this week.”