PGA Championship: Is Rory McIlroy the man to beat for major glory at Valhalla rather than Scottie Scheffler?

14 May 2024, 20:05 | Updated: 15 May 2024, 16:19

Former major champion Rich Beem reflects on Rory McIlroy's impressive back-to-back PGA Tour victories ahead of the PGA Championship and looks at whether he can continue his impressive form at Valhalla...

I don't know if there's enough superlatives in the dictionary to express how fun it is to watch McIlroy right now. The way he played Quail Hollow over the weekend, taking on the golf course by bringing out the driver at every opportunity, was just a blast.

It was like the harder he was swinging the ball, the straighter it seemed to go. He was on the verge of dismantling the golf course on the Friday but it didn't kick in until the Sunday, when he showed just what he can do and left everybody else with no chance.

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I feel bad for Xander Schauffele a bit because of how much everybody's talking about how he didn't step up on the final day. His putting wasn't great and he looked a little tentative, although he was never going to keep up when Mcllroy kicked it into high gear - the performance was almost otherworldly!

You would think that playing with Shane Lowry at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last month will have allowed McIlroy to take the reins off a bit and find this form, playing with a bit more freedom and just having fun - a bit like playing as a young kid.

The rough here at Valhalla is nowhere near as significant as it can be for a PGA Championship and the fairways are a little on the generous side, so it's conditions that could certainly suit McIlroy's game.

If McIlroy impresses with the driver again, then I don't see any reason in the world - other than a certain Scottie Scheffler - why he can't win this week. Scheffler has been in brilliant form, but it will be interesting how much the birth of his son has impacted his prep going into this week.

If you say any name besides McIlroy or Scheffler will win the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, you will probably be considered a bit silly, but there will be plenty of others who will want to try and stop them.

How about Jordan Spieth? It's really funny how soon we forget about Spieth still going for the career Grand Slam, just because he's not in 'great form', as this is a guy who can turn it loose at any given point.

Golf is a funny game and you never know when you're going to hit your stride. This course is a little generous off the tee and requires a damn good short game. He will win again at some point, so why not this week?!

'My family persuaded me to play!'

It's a long week at the PGA Championship because of the amount of work and golf that I'm trying to squeeze in together, but it's an event I'm really looking forward to. I have the family with me here this week and it's actually because of them that I'm playing.

These golf courses aren't getting any shorter or easier. I played 12 holes of Oak Hill last year and saw how hard that course was, so I wasn't sure whether I was going to play many more of these.

I told my family that it can be a bit of a grind playing when they weren't around and that I would if they showed up, so when they said they would be there then I was always going to be.

A little bit of a lesson from Tim Barter has helped me immensely. I'm hitting the ball as good as I have in a long time and I'm actually excited about how it is all going. So if I keep it in play then you know I've got a chance of having some fun this week.

Hopefully I can make a couple of birdies here and there to put a smile on my face. We're slogging it out and it'll be interesting to see how beastly this course becomes.

The odds are always against you, but it's not like I've forgotten how to play - I just don't do it as often! There's a few holes that I can handle and plenty that can cause some problems. I've just got to make sure I take care of the par-fives and then hang on for dear life at the others!

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