James: Has there ever been a more frustrating golfer than Rory McIlroy? Every time he only makes a par it feels like such a waste with the way he strikes his driver and irons.
Alex: I feel like he’s playing like I do. If I hit a nice drive to leave myself a short iron in off the short stuff, I’ll invariably smother the ball somewhere nowhere near the green. I wonder if, like me, he stands over that shot thinking “It’s only 120 yards, nice smooth swing, let the club do the work” before tugging it in the trees. I bet he does. We’re very similar.
Dan: I’ve just watched him dump it in a bunker from 100 yards out in the middle of the fairway in perfect conditions. Now, don’t get me wrong, it can happen to anyone. But try as I might, I can’t imagine the likes of Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson doing this kind of thing quite so often while in contention at a major. You can only presume that he is pushing so hard that he is over-complicating the game.
Steve: It’s difficult watching someone with such massive talent continually find ways to underachieve – relatively speaking. You wouldn’t have had many takers back in 2014 if you’d argued it would be approaching four years since McIlroy had last won one of the big four. What concerns me, more than anything, is that everyone knows what his deficiencies are – primarily wedge play – and yet while DJ strove hard to strengthen in this area McIlroy seems almost complacent about it. I read this week that he’s pleased with the consistency he’s showing in his game. But when the records are finally written in his career, no one will remember how many top 10s he’s had. They’ll only remember how many majors are on his mantelpiece.
Alex: There are a few Europeans under par and within four, five, six of the lead. Expecting any of them to make a run at it over the weekend?
Dan: No. This weekend is going to be all about the big beasts of the American jungle. Think DJ, Koepka, Rickie, Jordan and JT. Who knows, Tiger could still be a feature yet. With a side order of Woodland and Kisner. I am seeing this as a US PGA for US golfers.
Steve: Not unless there’s a course record – and perhaps a major scoring record too – for one of them. While I’m not convinced at all that Gary Woodland or Kevin Kisner will be lifting the trophy on Sunday there’s too many of the big guns lining up in behind, on a course that’s absolutely perfect for the American way. The greens are soft, it’s set up for target golf and I think Brooks Koepka will be hard to stop.
James: Nice to see Tommy Pieters find some form at the right time of the year. He seems to fit the bill for doing well around here. But to me this feels more like a regular PGA Tour event than a major so you’d fancy a serial PGA Tour winner to win it on something daft like -20.