McIlroy has extra bounce in his step for rest of season after Augusta

Northern Irishman plays first PGA Tour event since Masters at the Wells Fargo

Rory McIlroy last swung a club in anger at the US Masters, which is a good vibe to bring on his return to action at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship, where he is the defending champion, and gets a card back in his hand in the run-up to the USPGA Championship in just over a fortnight’s time.

For Mclroy, that closing round 64 at Augusta National had him leaving the property with an extra bounce to his step. And although the Northern Irishman's bid for a fourth career Wells Fargo title will take place at a different course to Quail Hollow where he was successful in 2010, 2015 and again last year, the move to TPC Potomac in the suburbs of Washington DC should provide a challenge that suits.

The shift to TPC Potomac for this year has been caused by Quail Hollow’s selection to play host to the Presidents Cup in September.

Following that final round 64 at the Masters, where he finished runner-up to Scottie Scheffler, McIlroy had remarked of how it "set me up for the rest of the year. I feel like my game has been sort of quietly pretty good without the results to really show for it."


McIlroy, currently seventh in the world rankings, has – as he pointed out – performed consistently so far this year, with three top-10s (and just one missed cut) in his seven events played.

In defending his title at TPC Potomac, McIlroy is also shifting back into gear ahead of a run at the US PGA at Southern Hills on May 19th-22nd.

Séamus Power, who last played at the Zurich Classic, took a week off in opting not to play the Mexico Open – where Jon Rahm made it a hugely successful weekend for Spanish golfers in adding that PGA Tour title to the Catalunya Championship won by compatriot Adri Arnaus on the DP World Tour – and returns to action in the Wells Fargo in the knowledge that he has safely earned his exemption into the US PGA and is also set to tie down his spot in next month's US Open at Brookline through the world rankings.

Pádraig Harrington, meanwhile, has opted to remain on the Champions Tour in mapping out his run-up to the PGA Championship. The Dubliner finished a distant tied-25th in the Insperity Invitational (all of 14 strokes behind winner Steve Alker) and moves on to this week's tour stop, the Mitsubishi Electric Classic at TPC Sugarloaf in Atlanta.

The British Masters holds the spotlight on the European Tour schedule this week, with three Irish players – Jonathan Caldwell, Cormac Sharvin and Paul Dunne, a past champion – in the field for the tournament at The Belfry which is hosted by Danny Willett.

With no LPGA Tour event this week, Leona Maguire – coming off back-to-back missed cuts, which has seen her slip to 22nd in the world rankings – has a chance to recalibrate before returning to tournament action at next week's Founders Cup.

Stephanie Meadow’s tied-26th place finish in the Palos Verdes Championship (won by Marina Alex) has seen her move inside the top-50 on the LPGA Tour order of merit rankings (in 49th) this season, setting her on track to retain her full tour card early and save any of the late drama which she was subjected to in the last two seasons.

On the Ladies European Tour, rookie Olivia Mehaffey – after a strong fortnight in Australia which saw her finish 11th in the Australian Women’s Classic and 20th in the NSW Open – has moved to 48th on the Race to Costa del Sol standings. Mehaffey continues her schedule by playing in this week’s Madrid Open on the LET.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times