US PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy eyes major title at Southern Hills

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy last won a major title at the 2014 PGA Championship
US PGA Championship
Venue: Southern Hills Country Club, Tulsa, Oklahoma Date: 19-22 May
Coverage: Live text updates of all four rounds on BBC Sport website. Radio 5 Live updates of rounds one and two. Saturday's round three live on Radio 5 Sports Extra from 20:00 BST. Sunday's final round on 5 Live from 21:00

Rory McIlroy is hoping "ignorance is bliss" as he looks to end an eight-year major drought by winning a third US PGA Championship in Oklahoma this week.

The Northern Irishman had his first look at Southern Hills on Monday.

"I've won a couple of majors where I've played nine holes on Tuesday, nine holes on Wednesday and sort of teed it up and played really well," he said.

"I'll take execution over preparation. If the ball goes where you're looking, that's more than half the battle."

The four-time major winner arrives in Tulsa in decent form, having equalled the lowest final-round score in Masters history to finish runner-up to world number one Scottie Scheffler at Augusta National in April.

He followed that with a top-five placing at Wells Fargo in his only tournament between the Masters and this.

However, unlike Tiger Woods - who undertook a scouting trip to the venue where he won in 2007, but which has since been significantly renovated by architect Gil Hanse in recent years - McIlroy's preparation has been restricted to watching online videos.

"The Fried Egg [Twitter account] did a little video with Gil that they sent out there so I watched that," McIlroy said.

"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 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."

McIlroy's post Ryder Cup revival

McIlroy said Europe's chastening Ryder Cup defeat by the United States at Whistling Straits last year was a "big turning point" in his career.

The four-time major winner's only point at in the record defeat came in Sunday's singles against Xander Schauffele.

"I sort of freed my mind up," he said.

"I had an awful couple of days. I played better in the singles and got that win against Xander and that gave me a little bit of confidence.

"I built on that and then I got the win in Vegas in the autumn and I have played pretty consistently good golf since then. It was a big turning point for me.

"I went down a path that I thought was going to help make some improvements and it didn't quite work out that way and I just went back to basics, figuring out what I did well and have just kept doing that."

Following the Woods approach

The 33-year-old was in a relaxed mood when he assessed his chances of reclaiming the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

The Northern Irishman is still chasing a first major since winning his second PGA title in 2014, having previously won the 2011 US Open and 2014 Open Championship.

And he suggested that he would try to adopt Woods' patient approach of being disciplined in his early rounds - a policy that almost reaped dividends in Augusta - his best performance in a major since Valhalla.

"Over the past few years, the things that have stopped me getting into contention and being able to win these majors is these big numbers and shooting myself out of it early," McIlroy added.

"I even think back to Augusta, I finished three behind in the end and I went bogey, double bogey on 10 and 11 on Friday. If you go par, par there, then all of a sudden there are those three shots.

"I'd love to go out and get a lead and build on it but that unfortunately isn't going to happen all the time so I think the most consistent way to get chances to win these major championships is to adopt that conservative strategy.

"Tiger did it most of his career - and OK, he had a couple of huge wins but a lot of times being conservative with his strategy and letting other guys make mistakes... pars are pretty good in major championships and that's the philosophy I believe in going forward."

Top Stories

Elsewhere on the BBC