Rory McIlroy cracks Scottie Scheffler joke to sum up true feelings ahead of PGA Championship

May 12, 2024

Rory McIlroy is finding form at an opportune time ahead of the PGA Championship next week, but he knows the threat world number one Scottie Scheffler poses at Valhalla

Scottie Scheffler is not in the field at the Wells Fargo Championship this week, but he was the first name on Rory McIlroy’s lips after the Northern Irishman produced a sublime third round at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy started the day in second place, four shots adrift of Xander Schauffele. But by the end of Saturday’s play, the American’s lead was cut to one thanks to a classy four-under-par, bogey-free 67 for the four-time major champion.

McIlroy is rounding into form after a frustrating start to the PGA Tour season, and he hopes to make it back-to-back wins on Sunday following his victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with Shane Lowry a fortnight ago. But the joke he cracked in his post-round interview with CBS was telling of his mindset heading into the PGA Championship at Valhalla next week.

“Two days in a row bogey-free, I now know what Scottie Scheffler feels like,” McIlroy said, pointing to the American’s incredible form this season, which has produced victories at The Masters, The Players, RBC Heritage and Arnold Palmer Invitational.

World number one Scheffler is the runaway leader atop the FedEx Cup standings, producing form comparable to the great Tiger Woods at his peak. The 27-year-old is absent at Quail Hollow in North Carolina this week after he and his wife, Meredith, welcomed their first child over the weekend.

But he will be back in action at Valhalla and he will be a heavy favourite to win his third major. McIlroy knows that something close to perfection will likely be required to defeat the American in Kentucky next week.

Fortunately for McIlroy, he is really happy with how his game is shaping up as he returns to the site of his last major championship triumph 10 years ago.

“I’ve played really well the last two days, leaned on the driver a lot and driven the ball very, very well, which is a continuation of how I felt in New Orleans,” he said. “I’m so comfortable on this golf course, had success here before. It’s amazing to get the support out there with the crowds and I’m excited for one more day at it.

“There’s something about venues where you have had success before and the comfort level. I’ve been here for 15 years and with all the experiences, subconsciously it all comes back to you and that’s part of the reason why I feel so comfortable here.

“I need to go out and play another solid round of golf like I have done for the last three days. If I do that, the course isn’t getting any easier, the greens are getting firmer. I think it’s a stretch to think I’m going to go out and be bogey-free , but if I shoot a bogey-free round tomorrow, I think I’ve got a great shot.”