May 19, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
County Down golfer Rory McIlroy is favorite with most bookmakers to clinch the PGA Championship this week in South Carolina – the second major of the year.
McIlroy tops the market on the back of his win at the Wells Fargo Championship in North Carolina two weeks ago which was his first victory in 18 months. He is as short as 10/1 with some firms.
The Hollywood golfer destroyed the field when the competition was last held at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in 2012 notching a scintillating 13-under-par total in the soft conditions. The course is expected top be much firmer this time around.
“It seems like there’s been a lot of time that’s passed, and I feel like I’m a different person and a different player,” McIlroy said.
“I played great here last time, obviously, and won my first PGA and my second major, but just because I did that doesn’t mean that I’m going to find it any easier this week than anyone else.”
The 32-year-old will play the first two rounds with fellow PGA championship winners Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka. The group tees off at 8:33 a.m. EST, 1.33 p.m. Irish time.
County Offaly man Shane Lowry is a short as 50/1. He tees off at 2:09 p.m. EST, 7:09 p.m. Irish time with Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia.
Lowry’s game is expected to suit the windswept course which will measure a whopping 7,876 yards – the longest in major history.
“You still have to chip and putt and do everything around the greens well here,” Lowry said. “It feels like a links course but it doesn’t play on the ground like a links course.
“You have to hit it through the air on the greens. I’m still trying to get my head around all that.”
“It’s so difficult around the greens and is quite hard, you’re going to need a lot of luck and play well to win a championship this week, I think,” he said.
“Your short game needs to be on fire and you’ve got to make a lot of mid-range 10 to 15 footers for pars.”
Meanwhile Pádraig Harrington, a two-time winner, will play in his 21st PGA this week. The Dubliner will tee off from the first tee alongside Phil Mickelson and Jason Day at 1.14 p.m. EST, 6.14 p.m. Irish time and is relishing the course.
“I’d love to play on golf courses like this all the time. It’s a beauty of a golf course. It’s a really nice test,” he said.
Harrington is priced at around 500/1.
“It gives a lot of options. It’s a big golf course. It’s got a lot of risk-reward, but it gives you some leeway in terms of you’ve got the skills around the greens, you can get it up-and-down,” Harrington said.
Lowry and Harrington were seen practicing at the course today.
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN, Sky Sports Main Event and Golf. Live from 8 a.m. EST, 1 p.m. Irish time Thursday.
BEST BETS: Racing Post tipster Steve Palmer has put up the following tips. Read his column here.
Viktor Hovland: 4pts each-way 22-1 Hills
Will Zalatoris: 2pts each-way 55-1 bet365
Branden Grace: 1pt each-way 160-1 bet365
Bubba Watson: 1pt each-way 100-1 bet365, Betfred
Keegan Bradley: 1pt each-way 90-1 Sporting Index
Justin Rose: 1pt each-way 80-1 bet365, Betfred