Return to Quail Hollow could spark form for Rory McIlroy

Northern Irishman has won twice at the venue and tees it up this week ahead of US PGA

Rory McIlroy’s last appearance was a missed cut at the Masters. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy’s last appearance was a missed cut at the Masters. Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

 

Can a return to one of his most favoured courses on the PGA Tour finally provide the spark to turn Rory McIlroy’s season around?

Milroy, returning to competitive play for the first time since missing the cut at the Masters last month, tees up at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow aware that nobody has played the layout in Charlotte, North Carolina, as well as he has done. He claimed his first PGA Tour title there in 2010 and claimed a second title in 2015 and has seven top-10s in nine appearances in the tournament.

In fact, since 2010, McIlroy’s scoring average is an unmatched 69.5 and it would seem like the perfect location for the out-of-sorts Northern Irishman, who had dropped to 15th in the latest world rankings (his lowest in over 11 years), to rediscover some of his old fire on a course he has claimed as one of his favourite tour stops.

“It’s always nice to come back to a golf course and an event where you’d played well before and have good memories . . . I’ve always enjoyed the golf course through the different variations of it from 2010, it’s one of those courses that sets up well for me. It fits my eye. I feel like I can play my game around here and that has served me well over the years.”

Those words were actually uttered by McIlroy back in 2018 yet would seem apropos given his quest to regain his best form, having added Pete Cowen to his coaching ticket as part of that rebuilding process. He has missed three cuts in nine tournament outings so far this year and is without a win anywhere dating back to the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in December 2019.

McIlroy is heading into a busy time on his schedule, with the US PGA Championship late this month returning to Kiawah Island (where he won by eight strokes in 2012) and the US Open at Torrey Pines next month. McIlroy has also committed to playing the Memorial and the Travelers going forward.

‘Jaded’

Shane Lowry is also in the field at Quail Hollow, as he maps out his own playing schedule that will primarily feature a week-on, week-off itinerary up to the US Open. Lowry has his regular bagman Brian “Bo” Martin back this week and he also intends on having his coach Neil Manchip fly back out to the United States for the week of the US PGA.

Lowry confessed to feeling “jaded” after finishing up at the RBC Heritage - his seventh tournament in an eight week stretch - but will be more selective in the coming months as he focuses on contending in the US PGA and US Open before returning to Europe, hopefully for the Irish Open at Mount Juliet ahead of his defence of the Open Championship at Royal St Georges.

“I feel like my game is in a good place and I am happy with the way things are going. I’m excited about the PGA,” said Lowry, who however doesn’t plan any advance visits to the South Carolina venue and instead will arrive on the Sunday ahead of that Major championship.

On the European Tour, Tom McKibbin - after a missed cut on his professional debut - will hope to bounce back when competing in the Canary Islands Championship which again will be played on the same Adeje course that played host to the Tenerife Open last week, won by South Africa’s Dean Burmester.

McKibbin is part of a quintet of Irish players competing in Tenerife, with Niall Kearney - who has made the cut each of the past two weeks - along with Cormac Sharvin, Paul Dunne and Jonathan Caldwell in the field.

Gavin Moynihan, after making his first cut in nine months in Cape Town last week, is again playing on the Challenge Tour where he is joined by Michael Hoey for the Dimension Data Pro-Am tournament at Fancourt in George, South Africa.

Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow

2019: Tied-7th

2018: Tied-16th

2017: Tied-22nd (US PGA)

2016: Tied-4th

2015: Win

2014: Tied-8th

2013: Tied-10th

2012: Tied-2nd

2011: Missed cut

2010: Win

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