Rory McIlroy hopes a relaxed approach and some online homework will pay dividends as he seeks a third US PGA Championship title in Tulsa.
McIlroy was a month away from turning professional when Southern Hills last hosted the US PGA in 2007, with Tiger Woods claiming his 13th major title during a heatwave which sent temperatures soaring into triple digits.
But instead of copying Woods and taking a scouting trip to the venue, which has been renovated by architect Gil Hanse in recent years, McIlroy did his research via videos posted online before travelling to Oklahoma on Monday.
“Yesterday (Monday) was the first time seeing the golf course. I really liked it,” McIlroy said.
“I didn’t know what this place was like before Gil got his hands on it, but I think he’s done a wonderful job with it. Love the green complexes. I love that he gives you options off the tee.
“I think you’re going to see a lot of different strategies this week, guys hitting drivers where maybe other guys aren’t and vice versa. It’s a really good track. I really enjoyed playing it and I think it’s going to be a wonderful test this week.
“The Fried Egg (twitter account) did a little video with Gil that they sent out there so I watched that. Then I think Golf Digest had a few flyovers of the golf course and I tried to dig up some footage of last year’s Senior PGA (Championship), but it was pretty limited.
“I’ve won a couple of major championships where I’ve played nine holes on Tuesday, nine holes on Wednesday and sort of teed it up and played really well. Sometimes not knowing where the trouble is, ignorance is bliss in some ways.
“For me I’ll take execution over preparation any day. If you’re executing the shots and you’re hitting the ball well and the ball is going where you’re looking, that’s more than half the battle.”
McIlroy, whose last major victory came in the 2014 US PGA at Valhalla, finished runner-up to world number one Scottie Scheffler in the Masters as he attempted to complete the career grand slam and was fifth in the Wells Fargo Championship on his only start since.
And the 33-year-old was in confident mood as he assessed his chances of lifting the Wanamaker Trophy once more on Sunday.
“I feel good about my game,” he said. “I’ve led greens in regulation the last two tournaments I’ve played. That’s something that hasn’t quite been there (before) and that’s something you need to do, especially around here.
“You hit greens here, you’re going to give yourself birdie chances. The targets are pretty small, pretty limited with where the hole locations will be, so you hit it into the middle of the greens here, you’re going to have decent chances.
“I focused a lot on iron play and chipping and putting last week in practice because I knew that was going to be the key to having a good week this week.”
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