Golf

Spieth, McIlroy favourites for PGA win

American targets to be youngest to complete a career Grand Slam; Northern Irishman aims to become only third player to win five Majors before 30

Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy make their bids for golfing history when the 99th PGA Championship tees off tomorrow morning (Singapore time)at Quail Hollow with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

World No. 2 Spieth, who won his third Major title two weeks ago at the British Open, would become the youngest golfer to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the year's last Major.

The 24-year-old American, who also won the 2015 Masters and US Open, could become only the sixth man to sweep the four Major titles after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen.

Spieth would be 24 years and 17 days old on Sunday, about six months younger than Woods - the youngest to win all four Majors - was when he won the 2000 British Open to complete his career slam.

Fourth-ranked McIlroy, a 28-year-old from Northern Ireland, could become only the third player to win five Majors before turning 30, joining Nicklaus and Woods.

But McIlroy, missing only the Masters to complete his own career Grand Slam, hasn't won a Major since the 2014 PGA Championship.

What he has done, however, is win twice at Quail Hollow and lost another in a play-off, and show he can play well in wet conditions, notably in taking his first Major title at the 2011 US Open at Congressional.

Spieth shies from the favourite role, saying, "I'd say Rory is probably the guy to beat."

Las Vegas oddsmakers agree, giving McIlroy a 7-1 chance with Spieth at 8-1.

Asked what odds he'd give himself, McIlroy cited two wins in eight starts at Quail Hollow.

"8-2, decent odds," McIlroy said.

"I've won a couple times. I like PGA Championship set-ups. They are fair. If I'm the favourite, I'm the favourite. I'm happy with that, means I'm playing well."

McIlroy credits his improved form in recent weeks, a share of fourth in last month's British Open and of fifth in last week's World Golf Championships event in Akron, with confidence from casinos.

"It's partly to do with the upturn in form that I've had over the last few weeks and then my history on this golf course," he said.

"It's a little bit of both."

THE GREEN MILE

Changes have been made to the lay-out since McIlroy's victories in 2010 and 2015, when he broke his own course record with a 61 in the third round.

"The changes are really good," McIlroy said.

"It makes the first six holes a lot more challenging. I still feel like the golf course gives you plenty of chances. It's going to play long this week with the weather. It will probably play a couple of strokes harder than it used to play."

The closing three-hole stretch at Quail Hollow, "The Green Mile", offers water and hazards galore in a classic tough finishing run.

"It will be an exciting finish if there are a few guys up around the lead at that point," McIlroy said.- AFP

PGA