Can Tiger Woods break his four-year drought at the majors? Will he ever add to his 14 major titles and start closing in on Jack Nicklaus’s record haul of 18? When will Rory McIlroy recreate the vintage form that won the 2010 US Open by eight shots? Can World No.1 Luke Donald channel the lung-busting successes of Team GB in London and strike gold in South Carolina to win his first major at Glory’s Last Shot, as they like to call the fourth and final major of the year?
All these questions, and more, will be answered, not in the next 30 minutes as they used to say at the start of American TV hit ‘Soap’ staring Billy Crystal in the 1980s, but in the next four days as 94th US PGA Championship tees off today.
In a rare moment of frankness, Woods admitted it is tougher to win majors than it was 10 years ago. This is, after, all is the era of 16 different champions in the last 16 majors. “Jack didn’t finish until he was 46 (winning the 1986 Masters). So if you go by that timetable, I’ve got 10 more years,” Woods said.
McIlroy said the grass is his secret weapon. He’s not smoking it, he was referring to the paspalum green stuff that they are playing a major on this week for the first time. It’s a durable sticky, grabby grass that holds no fear for McIlroy.
“We practise on paspalum at the Bears Club (in Jupiter, Florida) all the time,” he said. “I love it.” He also loves the monsoon weather that has made the Ocean Course even longer and more receptive. Perfect for his aggressive style. “The longer, the better,” McIlroy said. “If it’s wet, I really don’t mind at all.” The only complaint he could muster was about the giant Kiawah Island bugs. “I’m getting eaten alive,” he said. Beware: McIlroy sounds ready to bite back.
As does Donald, who has been motivated by Team GB’s gold medal performances at the Olympics. “Andy Murray’s was the one I enjoyed the most,” he said. “Because I got to watch that live.”
Pub quiz knowledge: There are no bunkers this week on the Ocean Course. Well, there are, but they’ve all been deemed to be “through the green”. So practice swing and grounding clubs will be allowed.