McIlroy: Little comfort in tacking Kiawah’s par-5’s in level par

Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy (Photo by Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images)

It was a small comfort to Rory McIlroy in boasting he played the four par-5s on day three of the PGA Championship in level par in far calmer conditions of the three days at Kiawah Island.

McIlroy parred the pair of par-5s on the opening nine and then bogeyed the par-5 11th before landing a brilliant 70-foot bunker shot to just three feet at the par-5 16th for birdie in his eventual round of a two-over par 74. His effort on golf’s traditional ‘moving day’ saw him drop some 15 places to just outside the top-50 with a five-over par tally.

Looking back over his opening two rounds, McIlroy was two-over par on the four par-5s on day one, with three bogeys and a birdie, and then one-over on Friday with one par, one birdie and two bogeys. That’s three-over for the dozen par-5s on the Ocean course.

McIlroy had not been included on the post-round interview PGA Championship ‘quick quotes’ interview list but to his credit, he agreed to speak of his third round that included just two birdies but four bogeys.

“At least I didn’t play them in over par today, I played them in even,” he responded when asked first-up his thoughts on playing the par-5s. “Yeah, I just haven’t played the par-5s well. Today I played them better. I got it up around the green on two and drew a pretty bad lie, didn’t make birdie there, and then on seven, same thing, hit a decent bunker shot, just missed the putt.

“Then on 11 it was a sloppy bogey. It just shows you this golf course, so you miss by a little bit, and it just is so penal, and you can just get yourself in some really tricky positions. If you try to be too perfect with it, then you can make mistakes and run up some not huge numbers but you can make some mistakes. So, the par-5s this week haven’t been great. I need to do some other things better, as well, but that certainly hasn’t happened.”

With a round to play, McIlroy has recorded just nine birdies over his 54-holes, playing the par-4 sixth the best at two-under, though he’s also posted 14 bogeys and none more hurtful than bogeying his closing three holes on day two.

“The par-3s have been okay for me though I bogeyed 17 yesterday, but I think it just showed like I’m pretty comfortable with where my iron game is,” he said. “I’ve put myself out of position a little bit with a couple of the tee shots on the par-5s, and that’s cost me.

“Still a little bit of work to do, not quite feeling like it’s all there, and that’s what this course does. It exposes where you’re not at your best, and certainly this week that’s been off the tee.”

And how will McIlroy now cope with expected winds of up to 30mph over the final round of the 103rd hosting of the PGA Championship?

“Yeah, there’s not as many holes straight back into the wind or straight downwind, a lot of crosswinds, which sort of makes it just as tricky and just as tough,” he said.

“You just have to adapt and you have to — I think the big thing is just giving yourself enough room for error, especially on those holes, 10, 11, 12, 13, with the trouble on the right and the wind off the left, just really making sure that your targets are far enough left that if you do leak one right that you’re still going to be okay.”


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