McIlroy chasing elusive 5th major title at PGA 8 years later

May 16, 2022, 11:42 PM | Updated: May 17, 2022, 11:44 am
Rory McIlroy, of North Ireland, watches his tee shot during a practice round for the PGA Championsh...

Rory McIlroy, of North Ireland, watches his tee shot during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

              FILE - Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, reacts to his tee shot on the third hole during the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament, Sunday, May 8, 2022, at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm golf club in Potomac, Md. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
              Rory McIlroy, of North Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 12th hole during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
              Rory McIlroy, of North Ireland, watches his tee shot during a practice round for the PGA Championship golf tournament, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Rory McIlroy was 25 years old when he hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy over his head and looked primed for a run at the PGA record books.

He’d just won the 2014 PGA Championship for his fourth major title and it was open question of how many more were in the Northern Irishman’s future. He’d even made a terrific save of the trophy itself, snatching the top as it nearly tumbled to the ground during a clumsy handoff in the presentation.

But eight years later, McIlory heads into this week’s PGA Championship at Southern Hills still looking for that surprisingly elusive fifth major victory.

It’s not that McIlroy’s game crumbled. He has 20 career tour victories, twice reclaimed the No. 1 ranking and starred in Ryder Cup victories for Europe. On the personal side, he got married and had a child.

And he comes into this week with some serious momentum and a confidence boost after a blistering final-round 64 at the Masters that rocketed him to a second-place finish behind Scottie Scheffler. It was his best finish at a major in four years.

“I feel good about it all,” he said. “I’m certainly in a better place with my game than where I was this time last year” going into the PGA Championship.

McIlroy has twice won the PGA Championship. His dominant eight-stroke victory at the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island in 2012 was a tournament record, smashing a mark set by Jack Nicklaus in 1960. The 2014 victory at Valhalla edged Phil Mickelson by a stroke.

McIlroy noted Tuesday that in a couple of his previous major victories, it was a big early start that left the pack chasing him to the end.

“You can’t plan on getting out ahead,” McIlroy said. “That’s just something that happens if you play well and get some momentum. You’re sort of feeling it.

“It’s not as if I went out with the mindset those four tournaments of I’m going to go out and shoot 65 the first two days and let them all come and catch me. It just sort of happened,” he said.

Those results also helped McIlroy draw a map to see where some other wins got away. The second round at the Masters last month stands out.

“The things that have stopped me from getting in contention or being able to win these majors is big numbers and shooting myself out of it sort of early,” McIlroy said. “(At Augusta) I went bogey, double bogey on 10 and 11. On Friday. You go par-par there and all of a sudden there’s those three shots. It doesn’t take much in major championships. It’s tiny margins.”

A second-round 73 two weeks ago at the Wells Fargo Championship barely got him to the weekend before he again finished strong in fifth.

So look for a cautious and conservative McIlroy at Southern Hills. Play it safe, and play for par to be in contention at the end.

“Tiger (Woods) did it most of his career, and OK, he had a couple of huge wins in there, but a lot of times being conservative with his strategy, letting other guys make the mistakes,” McIlroy said. “Pars are pretty good in major championships, and that’s sort of the philosophy that I believe in going forward.”

McIlroy is trying to keep things as loose as possible. He showed no hint of internal pressure to win that elusive fifth major and has kept a push for intense, detailed pre-tournament preparation at Southern Hills to a minimum.

“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,” McIlroy said. “I’ll take execution over preparation any day.”


More AP golf: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]
21 days ago
Joe Jarzynka...
Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]
21 days ago
FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...
Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]
21 days ago
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...
Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]
21 days ago
FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...
Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]
21 days ago
FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...
Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]
21 days ago
McIlroy chasing elusive 5th major title at PGA 8 years later