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Rory McIlroy’s bullishness hints at US PGA Championship title challenge

12 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rory McIlroy’s bullishness hints at US PGA Championship title challenge

The Northern Irishman has to be taken at his word when he says he is 100 per cent fit - it is not in his short or long-term interest to suggest otherwise

“I’m ready to play and I expect to do well.”

Rory McIlroy’s forthright words to Daily Mail golf correspondent Derek Lawrenson on Monday were certainly far easier to decipher than the nine emojis he posted to Twitter three days earlier.

The world No. 1, just five weeks on from suffering the ankle ligament damage that prevented him from defending his Open Championship and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational titles, is back.

And Whistling Straights for the US PGA Championship – where McIlroy is also reigning champion – is the perfect place to return.

The final major championship of the year would obviously have been a weaker tournament without him, both in terms of quality and profile.

12/1 – Rory McIlroy to win the US PGA Championship

The player, meanwhile, who will tee up competitively for the first time since the US Open in June, has the benefit of returning at a course that is well-suited to his game.

The last time the PGA was held at this year’s venue in Wisconsin – which will also host the 2020 Ryder Cup – was in 2010, where a then-21-year-old McIlroy finished one shot off the lead in a tie for third.

And while four major victories in the subsequent five years established him as golf’s leading star – after 16 years of being headlined by Tiger Woods, the official PGA Tour video game now features the name of the Northern Irishman – the beautiful thing about any sport is that it never stands still.

Just ask Jordan Spieth, this year’s Masters and US Open winner who is enjoying the sort of acclaim and attention that has almost exclusively been reserved for McIlroy in recent years.

The world’s top-ranked players – Spieth has been unable to dislodge McIlroy, despite recording finishes of first, fourth and tenth in the latter’s enforced absence – have been paired together for the first two rounds this week and will be joined by claret jug winner Zach Johnson.

11/8 – Rory McIlroy to win 72-hole match bet v Jordan Spieth

It is McIlroy and Spieth, however, who will command the keen attention of observers both inside and outside of the ropes.

Quite right, too. At 26 and 22 respectively, they are both the present and future of the sport.

In the unfamiliar position of being the senior man in a rivalry, McIlroy’s bullish pre-tournament talk is that of a player aiming to re-assert his authority.

But is he wrong to expect so much of himself so soon after a serious injury?

Probably not.

9/4 – Rory McIlroy to finish in the top five at the US PGA Championship

McIlroy has to be taken at his word when he says he is 100 per cent fit.

It is not in his short or long-term interest to suggest otherwise, while his fitness coach Steve McGregor – an expert in his field who has worked with some of sport’s leading institutions – would not approve unnecessary risks.

And while his contemporaries were slogging it out in Akron at the weekend, a well-rested McIlroy was getting in some early practice at Whistling Straits. That could be crucial.

Of course, making good scores during practice rounds in Portugal – as McIlroy said he did last week – is not comparable to teeing up at one of golf’s showpiece events and there is bound to be at least a little bit of rust.

But McIlroy’s talent is such that he is already considered one of the greatest players to ever pick up a club.

If in contention at the weekend, then the player who already has a penchant for incredible sporting narratives could create one of the most compelling of his short career so far.

US PGA Championship betting

READ: Sarah Stirk: My 6 picks for the US PGA Championship

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