Rory McIlroy returns to the PGA Championship for the 10th time this week, hoping to conquer Bellerive Country Club and earn his fifth major title.
While McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, he’s enjoyed one of his best seasons since that time this year. He has a win (Arnold Palmer Invitational) and three runner-up finishes this year, plus three more top-6 finishes.
Everyone wants to know when McIlroy is going to win another major, but he’s pleased with the consistency he’s displayed this year.
“I would take this year over the one where you win a major and because it’s not — look, it is about the results at the end of the day,” McIlroy said Tuesday at his press conference. “People aren’t going to look back at your career and think of the journey and it was consistent and whatever. They’re going to look at if you win or lose. But I think within myself I would be happier to play the golf that I’m playing because I’m giving myself chances nearly every week that I tee it up.
“I would rather do that than have one hot week and, yes, you win a major, but I would rather have the year that I’m having and persevere with it and hopefully it all — not turns around because it’s not as if my game’s in bad shape at all, it’s just I just haven’t won as much as I would have liked, but there’s still plenty of time to change that.”
With that being said, McIlroy understands a win this week makes his season even more special.
“This is the last major of the year. Obviously, you’ve got a lot of great tournaments coming up after this, but I think with a good week this week, it just puts a different spin on my year from being what some people see as disappointing to back on track and another major and going forward again,” he said.
“But where my game is, I feel like I’ve done as well as I could with what I have. It’s still a work in progress. I’m still working on a few things in my swing and trying to iron a few kinks out, but as long as I can keep working at it and focus on just trying to become a better golfer, that’s all I can do.”
Like many players this week, McIlroy is unfamiliar with Bellerive, but he anticipates a tough test, just like with any major venue.
“I haven’t seen much of Bellerive this week, for obvious reasons, with the weather, but from what I’ve seen it does remind me of somewhere like a Valhalla type of golf course where there’s quite a lot of mounding,” McIlroy said. “The bunkering is pretty good, but it’s a big, big long golf course. And Kerry and his team set the golf courses up really well.
“I don’t think they really care whether the winning score is 5-under par or 20-under par. They sort of just let the conditions dictate what happens, and I think all the players appreciate that. We all like to play golf courses that are tough but fair, and I think that the PGA present golf courses like that to us each and every year.”
McIlroy has been grouped with Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas during the first two rounds, making up one of the the week’s featured groups.
“You certainly get thrown at the deep end straight away in a group like that,” McIlroy said. “I think what Justin and I — even as Justin won last week, and you just have to accept that 75 percent of the people that are out there watching are watching one guy in that group and that’s it. So as long as you know that and you’re going to expect a little bit of movement, and there’s a lot that goes on around a group that involves Tiger, so you just have to be in the right place mentally to accept it and go with it.
“But it’s going to be fun. It’s nice to play in groups like that and I guess it focuses you straight away. It’s going to be a big atmosphere out there, and I’m looking forward to that.”