PGA Championship 2014 Valhalla Preview
Posted at August 7, 2014
The PGA Championship begins at Valhalla today and the pre-tournament focus is not on Rory McIlroy, despite being the favourite!
Pressure is a funny thing. Some people thrive under it, most others crumble to pieces when it is piled upon their shoulders. Rory McIlroy is (now) in the former category given his spectacular back-to-back wins at the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone - but the pressure and media focus is not on him at the PGA Championship this week. Blame that on the Tiger Woods show, the will he/won't he play saga and the circus which followed him around Valhalla during his 'all-important' practice round yesterday. Whilst everyone else watched every little movement Tiger made trying to spot even the smallest grimace of pain - Rory McIlroy sat back in total comfort and watched with content. Or has Tiger stolen Rory's thunder?
Cast your mind back to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. His relationship had just fallen apart and he seemed like a broken man himself in the press room - prompting everyone to predict a disastrous missed cut and more misery. That never happened, of course, and Rory has not looked back since. Favourite for almost every tournament he plays in, Rory has really taken to the stage in impressive fashion and the two commanding performances from the past three weeks suggests that he is more than ready to assume the Nicklaus/Tiger role and dominate the game in a way that we haven't seen for many years. The media attention in previous months has been greater than ever for Rory - at a time when he has been playing arguably his best ever golf. Now though, it's all been temporarily restricted at Valhalla because of his Nike counterpart.
Without Tiger, the PGA Championship would have been all about Rory McIlroy. Instead, Rory has been left in the shadows, which means that Rory has to demand the attention with his opening rounds. That could be incredibly dangerous for the rest of the field; there's no doubting his ability to dominate a major tournament featuring of the world's best, either. Will Rory win? It is hard to say no. 'How many can he win by?' might be the better question to ask.