LOUISVILLE: Rory McIlroy, fresh off his third major triumph, leads a new generation of multiple major winners trying to separate themselves from the pack going into the 96th PGA Championship.
The year’s final major golf championship begins next week at Valhalla, with McIlroy eager to carry over the momentum from his British Open victory at Royal Liverpool.
“I always feel like winning a major is almost a springboard,” said McIlroy. “I’ve got a lot of momentum and I can carry that through to the end of the year and hopefully play some really good golf.”
McIlroy, whose other major wins include the 2012 PGA Championship and 2011 US Open, became the third player this year to add another major to his resume.
American Bubba Watson won his second Masters title in three seasons, and Germany’s Martin Kaymer followed up his 2010 PGA Championship title with a runaway US Open triumph in June.
This could be the first year since 2000 – and only the second since 1980 – when none of a year’s four major champions was a first-time winner.
“There weren’t that many guys out here with multiple majors for a while,” said Australian Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion whose world number one ranking was under threat from McIlroy as the PGA Championship approached.
“I think we’re getting to another level of the game now where we’re seeing the new era of great players.”
Tiger Woods, a 14-time major champion whose chase of Jack Nicklaus’ record 18 major wins has been stalled since the 2008 US Open, comes off his worst 72-hole major result as a professional, a share of 69th at Hoylake.
But he has played only three events since March following back surgery to relieve a pinched nerve.
“The speed is developing,” said Woods. “I’ve gotten stronger, but we’re just now introducing explosive training. The explosiveness is going to come back.”
Time is ticking for Spain’s Sergio Garcia, who at 34 is still chasing his first major victory.
Garcia shared second at the British Open, his fourth major runner-up effort, but has not seen Valhalla since Europe’s 2008 Ryder Cup loss to the US.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2014.
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