McIlroy’s driver proves major power tool
World number one produced series of 300-plus yards drives at Valhalla to claim US PGA title
Rory McIlroy hits an approach shot on the seventh hole during the final round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images
The impetus for this charge on the back nine came on the 10th, a hole where he had suffered a double bogey in Thursday’s first round.
McIlroy eagled the hole and came home in 32 strokes to confirm his liking of the back nine. Over the tournament he was 12-under-par on that stretch of holes from 10 to 18. By contrast, runner-up Phil Mickelson was five-under on the back nine for the tournament, Rickie Fowler was six-under, and Henrik Stenson was four-under.
Back nineTo emphasise just how good McIlroy’s play of the back nine was throughout the week that stretch of holes featured six of the eight toughest holes statistically on the course.
McIlroy led the statistics for driving – just as he did in winning the WGC-Bridgestone at Akron the previous week – with average drives of 315.6 yards, some 25 yards ahead of Mickelson.
The long drives were also accurate (he was in the top 10, hitting 41 of 46 fairways through the championship) and his length off the tee also gave him an advantage for his approach shots with nine-iron and wedges in his hand when the majority of the field were hitting four- and five-irons.