By Larry Fine
CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (Reuters) – Rory McIlroy is comfortable in the role of favorite this week at the PGA Championship and the 28-year-old said on Tuesday that his history at Quail Hollow puts him at great ease.
“I’ve had a lot of success here before,” the world number four told reporters. “I’ve always played well here. I’ve always felt comfortable on this golf course.”
McIlroy has played Quail Hollow seven times and won twice, firing a 62 in 2010 on the way to claiming his first PGA Tour title and a course-record 61 in winning the 2015 title. As for PGAs, he has played in eight and won two.
The four-times major winner was installed as 7-1 favorite over British Open champion Jordan Spieth, rated at 8-1 by online betting service Bovada in his quest to complete a career grand slam.
“Sounds like decent value,” McIlroy joked with reporters.
“I think it’s partly to do with the upturn in form that I’ve had over the last few weeks, and then my history on this golf course: a couple of wins, beaten in a playoff, a few other top 10s,” said the Northern Irishman, coming off top-five finishes at the British Open and last week’s WGC-Bridgestone.
It is a changed Quail Hollow this week, made longer with revisions to three holes on the front nine and more difficult with rough added and greens made faster – alterations that McIlroy said suited him.
The Northern Irishman is looking for his first win of 2017 and first major in three years in the face of injuries, equipment switches and a change of caddie, but believes he has nothing to prove.
“I’ve proven myself enough over the last nine years of my career. Obviously I wouldn’t have won as much as I would have liked this year, and there’s been a few components to that, injury-wise, changing equipment and stuff. It has been a bit of a transitional year.”I feel like everything’s settled. My health is pretty much where it needs to be. I just want to go out and play my game and hopefully that will be good enough.”
McIlroy said confidence is a powerful factor in golf.
“There’s certain golf courses that you just can see yourself shoot a score on,” he said. “There’s some golf courses you go to that give you that feeling… that’s sort of how it feels here.”I think once you go back to a place where you do have great memories, all that starts to come flooding back to you and it makes you feel good about yourself.
“This has been a week I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and I’m glad it’s here and I’m glad I’m showing up for this week feeling like my game is in good shape.”
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Ken Ferris)