Sam Torrance: Why I fancy Rory McIlroy to win the US PGA
Monday, 6 August 2018
He is the defending champion and arrives at Bellerive Country Club fresh from victory at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, so everything points to a good finish for Justin Thomas at the US PGA Championship this week.
Although this is a different course to Quail Hollow, where Thomas won the title 12 months ago, simply returning to an event where he’s the holder will give him a lot of good feelings and positive energy. Winning at the weekend will only have added to that.
The world No2 has three titles already this season but none of them have been Majors so he’ll still be hungry and I believe he has more wins in him yet this year.
*Read more*: Sam Torrance: Late bloomer McEvoy highlights golf's depth
You might say Thomas could barely be in better form, but then the same is true of both Dustin Johnson and Francesco Molinari.
Johnson won the Canadian Open just over a week ago, cementing his status as world No1, and he looked pretty impressive at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational too.
For a player who has won 19 times on the PGA Tour, Johnson still has just the one Major to his name – the 2016 US Open – but then he has only really reached the top of his game in the last three or four years.
Hard work has improved his wedge play, made him a much better player overall and given him a better chance of adding more Majors. He and fellow American Thomas are the top two to beat this week.Defending champion Thomas also won last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (Source: Getty)
Molinari didn’t have a great week at the WGC, finishing 39th, but will still be revelling in his Open triumph little more than a fortnight ago, so much will depend on his frame of mind.
He isn’t quite in the same age bracket as a 37-year-old Sergio Garcia, but lifting the Claret Jug will have meant just as much to 35-year-old Molinari as winning the 2017 Masters did to the Spaniard.World No1 Dustin Johnson is another with recent winning form (Source: Getty)
Garcia has done nothing since, although becoming a father may be another factor, and it shows that winning that first Major can go either way.
It’s up to the Italian how he follows it up, but he certainly has the game to do well at Bellerive. Nick Price won the last US PGA Championship held there in 1992 and his straight-hitting game puts me in mind of Molinari.Francesco Molinari is still revelling in his maiden Major win at The Open last month (Source: Getty)
*Rory due another Major*
The player I have the strongest feeling for this week, however, is Rory McIlroy. I just like where he and his game are at.
Rory looked to be coasting at the weekend until a final round of 73 left him in sixth place, seven shots behind Thomas. He’ll have been hugely disappointed to have fallen short again, but I still fancy him.
I know how tough it is to win these championships. You’ve got to put yourself in the position to win before you can lose it. And he’s done that.
He’s still finishing in the top 10. If it were anyone else we’d be congratulating them for another good week. That’s not to say criticism of him is harsh – he has set those standards for himself with four Major wins – but he’s a fraction away from absolutely dominating.
I’ve always loved McIlroy’s swing – when it’s free-flowing I don’t think there’s anything better in the game – and at the moment it’s looking immense. He just hits it so far.
Rory’s also in a great frame of mind now too. He’ll never want for anything again, he’s got a beautiful wife; he just needs a break but his luck is due to turn.
Look at his finishes this year: he won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, was second at The Open, the BMW PGA Championship and the Dubai Desert Classic, third in Abu Dhabi, fifth at the Masters. He’s been up there virtually every time he has played.
It’s the last Major of the year and the one Rory feels is best set up for him – as his two wins show. I think it’s due to be his time again.
*Women's golf blossoming in England*
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Georgia Hall earn a fantastic first Major win at the Women’s British Open on Sunday.
I know Georgia well, have played with her a few times and she’s a great little kid. To have won this title at just 22 is incredible and she won it so well.Hall won the European Order of Merit last year and has followed it up with a Major (Source: Getty)
With the likes of Charley Hull too, the women’s game in England is as strong as I can remember it for a long time.
Hall has shone the brightest of the new generation, she won the European Order of Merit last year and now she’s become the first to break through and win a Major. Amazing.
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