2012 PGA Championship preview: Rory McIlroy

By Jim Donahue

This has been a tough season overall for Rory McIlroy , although he showed some signs of breaking out of his slump last week at Firestone. Can McIlroy add this week’s PGA Championship to his 2011 U.S. Open trophy?

McIlroy has been off his game all summer, possibly distracted by the trappings of fame. But McIlroy excels at American-style golf.

His U.S. Open win was on a Congressional course with soft fairways and soft greens. He hits it long and high, so he’s not a big fan of windy conditions. This is the year’s final major, so McIlroy knows he can turn an otherwise so-so year into a great one with a victory. He’s been working harder since his mid-summer lapse. The focus may return.

McIlroy found some confidence en route to a share of fifth place at Firestone, defining his wedge game as “great.” Tied for second in greens hit to post his third top 10 in his last five starts, rebounding from an 0-for-3 skid on the PGA Tour.

The world’s No. 3 player says the new rules regarding the constitution of bunkers at this week’s PGA Championship will provide a “different challenge”. A new ruling is in place for the competition means that every sanded area on the course is not considered a bunker. That means that players will be able to ground their club and take a practice swing prior to executing their shot, and that is a concept which will take a bit of getting used to.

McIlroy will tee off with Dustin Johnson and Jim Furyk on Thursday.

Age: 23.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide wins: 6.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011).

Best 2012 performances: Won the Honda Classic.

2012 majors: Masters-T40, US Open-Cut, British Open-T60.

Odds to win: +1300

Overview: It’s hard to believe that McIlroy was on the verge of establishing himself at No. 1 when he stood over a 15-foot birdie putt on the last hole at Quail Hollow for the win. He lost in a playoff, and soon had a hard time making cuts as questions swirled about whether his romance with Caroline Wozniacki was holding him back. Welcome to the spotlight, kid. Equally hard to believe is that tie for 40th in the Masters would be his best performance in the majors to date. The talent hasn’t left him.

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