Kiawah Island (United States) (AFP)
Thirty years after the Ryder Cup fought a “war on the shore” on Kiawah Island, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth could produce more fireworks between the United States and Europe at the 103rd PGA Championship.
The second major tournament of the year kicks off Thursday on the 7,876-yard par 72 Ocean course in the resort town of South Carolina where the Americans edged Europe 14 1 / 2-13 1/2 in 1991.
This playful Ryder Cup was decided by a missed six-foot putt by Germany’s Bernhard Langer on the 18th hole of the last game.
Such drama was lacking in the 2012 PGA Championship as McIlroy claimed an eight-stroke victory at Kiawah Island, setting the stage for this year’s return to the Carolina Coast.
McIlroy, four-time major winner from Northern Ireland, and three-time major champion Spieth, a 27-year-old Texan, both play well and continue the story.
Spieth will look to finish a career Grand Slam by adding the PGA to victories at the 2015 Masters and the US Open and the 2017 British Open.
A victory at Kiawah Island would put Spieth in exclusive company alongside Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen.
“He’s the one who, if I could pick one more to win, I would pick that one,” Spieth said. “While playing the tournament it didn’t really hit me and didn’t add pressure or anything like that. It excites me a little more to go into it. “
McIlroy will try to break through a major drought seven years since winning the 2014 PGA. He could become the first player from outside the United States to win a fifth career major since England’s Nick Faldo won his career. fifth of six years in 1992.
“Kiawah Island is a very big course. He’ll need his distance, “said Jason Day, 2015 PGA winner.” And his little game will be crucial. I think he hits his irons really well already. “
This is the first time McIlroy has played a major on a course where he won a major and it comes after breaking an 18-month drought on the US PGA Tour on May 9 at Quail Hollow.
“This victory brings us back a bit of that swagger that we all need,” said Irishman Padraig Harrington. “Rory is a very dangerous player with that. “
McIlroy, seventh, found momentum after struggles to try to polish his game.
“This victory is very important for Kiawah,” he said. “I played really well there last time around. I’ll try to do my homework and familiarize myself a bit with the layout.
“It’s definitely good timing. It’s obviously a huge boost in confidence knowing that my game is closer than it has been… it’s validation that I’m on the right track. “
Due to Covid-19 security measures, there will be a daily limit of 10,000 spectators, or about a third of the crowd that watched McIlroy in 2012, but any crowd is a boost for McIlroy.
“I’m glad we get to play in front of crowds,” he said. “I am able to draw energy from this. It’s a great experience to feel this again. “
The PGA of America has approved the use of rangefinders in hopes of picking up the pace.
“I find it hard to see him speed things up, unless you take it offline or get into a conflict,” Spieth said. “We plan to use it, but I think it will be more of a confirmation than anything else. It won’t be that we just take action, shoot and go.
“These pins are tucking and the wind is blowing and you have to find a little more than just the hole number. “
– Bryson likes his luck –
Reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau, whose distance foremost style won a major tournament last year at Winged Foot, is also a threat.
“I feel like I’m gaining momentum,” said DeChambeau, fourth. “It’s one of the longest championships we’ve ever played and I’m delighted with it because every time it’s a really long golf course I think it suits me very well.
“If I can be comfortable with my driver I think I have a good chance of winning. “
Spain, third, Jon Rahm, is preparing to face inconsistent winds on the Kiawah track.
“It can be a lot of wind in one direction one day and then be in another direction the next day,” said Rahm. “What I usually do is try to hit the greens and the greens. “
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson retired from this week’s PGA event in Dallas with knee pain, but likes the idea of a major near his hometown, just like when he won the Masters 2020 at Augusta National.
“It’s great to play a major in my home state. I can’t wait to be there, ”Johnson said. “Very good golf course, very difficult. “
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