LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Four days after his most recent victory, and not much has changed.
Rory McIlroy’s form looks as strong as ever.
After a mid-round stumble, McIlroy made five birdies in his last seven holes for an opening 5-under 66 Thursday at the PGA Championship. That left the pre-tournament favorite just one shot behind the leaders at Valhalla.
“I’ve got a good thing going now,” he said afterward, “and I’m just trying to ride the momentum.”
McIlroy squandered a solid front-nine 32 with a sloppy start to his back side. Most surprising was his double-crossed second shot on the par-5 10th, which sailed out-of-bounds left. After a three-putt bogey on 11, he ran off four birdies in a row, then had a tap-in birdie on 18 for his 11th consecutive under-par round (13 of his last 14 rounds have been in the 60s).
“It’s trying to use that fire as a fuel to sort of propel yourself forward,” he said. “I think it just shows where my game is mentally right now, as well, that I was able to do that today.”
Just like at Hoylake and Firestone, McIlroy was again locked in with his driver Thursday, pounding six drives that flew more than 315 yards and missing only two fairways. He made eight birdies on a day when the scoring average on the par-71 layout was a shade over 72.
“You look at the three wins that I’ve had, and I’ve started really well in each of them,” said McIlroy, who opened with a round in the 60s in each of those victories. “It’s important, and it’s great to get off to another today.”