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Golf Australia Express : GA Express 192
H AS it been that long already? The never-ending procession of PGA Tour tournaments and the advent of wraparound seasons means that there’s barely time to breathe, let alone sit down and take stock of things. So here’s something that’s probably snuck up on you: it’s been 12 whole months since Rory McIlroy was victorious on the PGA Tour. Those who were critical of the former World No.1 for his ill-timed social soccer injury after the US Open received their fair share of criticism themselves, but was their condemnation of McIlroy’s form-flirting prophetic? On results alone, you’d have to say yes. The contrast between the past year and the world-beating one that preceded it could not be starker. Prior to his broken ankle, McIlroy had won five times on the PGA Tour in just 10 months, starting with his third major title at the The Open Championship and also snaffling a PGA Championship a few months later. The most commanding win of them all came at the Wells Fargo Championship – the scene of this week’s PGA Tour stop – when he trumped second-placed Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson by seven strokes, thanks predominantly to a ridiculous third-round 61. But beyond that week? Radio silence. That said, the world No.3 has hardly been terrible since returning from his injury- induced hiatus. Most players would count 11 made cuts from 12 events, and a lowest finish of T29 over that span, as a rock solid year. But McIlroy isn’t most players, and while his three top 10s in his last four events might improve his mood marginally, he expects to be winning titles. And what better place to right that ship than at the scene of his last PGA Tour triumph, Quail Hollow? Few other courses suit the Northern Irishman’s game more than the famous Charlotte layout. Last year he gained a truly staggering 9.4 shots on the field with his driver alone – the third-best strokes gained: driving total since the PGA Tour began using ShotLink in 2003. He set a tournament record by netting 27 birdies over the four days, led the field in driving distance by averaging 321.1 yards off the tee, and hit 56 of 72 greens in regulation to sit second in that statistic. It was his second title at Quail Hollow, having secured his maiden PGA Tour title at the Quail Hollow Championship in 2010, and his third-round 61 also means he owns the tournament scoring record. THE CONTRAST BETWEEN THE PAST YEAR AND THE WORLD-BEATING ONE THAT PRECEDED IT COULD NOT BE STARKER.
GA Express 191
GA Express 193