Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods begin preparations for PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods have been out on the course at Bethpage Black as they started practice for this week’s PGA Championship.

Golf’s elite have descended onto the famous course in Long Island, New York for the second major of the season with play due to get underway on Thursday. 

McIlroy and Woods have already touched down and wasted no time in getting to grips with the course though.

Both were pictured out and about on Monday as they played a few holes and assessed the potential scoring opportunities and danger zones going into the tournament.

Woods is looking for back-to-back majors following his historic success at the Masters last month and is back at the scene of his 2002 US Open victory.

The American icon led from start to finish and was the only player to finish under par in 2002 and was sixth when the tournament returned to the same venue seven years later. 

Defending champion Brooks Koepka remains the one to beat but Woods is expected to have the support of the boisterous New York fans.

He was seen looking pretty relaxed on one green as he shared a joke with caddy Joe LaCava.

McIlroy would likely be the outright favourite if he were not coming off another disappointing Sunday, the latest in the final round at the Wells Fargo Championship, where he shot an error-strewn closing 73.

His putter let him down at Quail Hollow and he was seen trying to remedy that on Monday. McIlroy was wrapped up for his practice, wearing a jumper and big bobble hat to keep the cold out.

British hope Tommy Fleetwood will take a positive approach into the tournament, despite admitting to being at a distinct disadvantage.

Fleetwood was just 11 years old when Woods won the 2002 US Open and turned professional in 2010, the year after Lucas Glover claimed his lone major title in the 2009 US Open at the same venue.

The 28-year-old was also not in the field when Bethpage hosted The Barclays tournament in 2012 and 2016 as part of the FedEx Cup play-offs, while his preparation has been dominated by being tournament host for the British Masters, where he finished a highly creditable eighth.

‘I’ve never been to Bethpage before,’ said Fleetwood, who was among the players on a flight to New York, chartered by the European Tour, which left two hours after the final putt was holed at Hillside.

‘I’ve seen it played in the events on TV but I couldn’t describe one hole to you. But we’ll be there nice and early and I’ll have plenty of time to prep. I mean, everybody raves about the course, don’t they, so I’m looking forward to that.

‘I generally say every course suits me and then see where we go from there. I try to make a positive statement about it and then work backwards from there.

‘But in general the major set-ups are generally the toughest and I do like that about them. I enjoy playing that style of golf and I enjoy tournaments where you know you have to play well and it tests every aspect of your game. We’ll start off saying it’s suits me and then see.’

After being held since 1972 in the summer, the PGA Championship’s move to May should ensure milder weather and more attention from US sports fans whose thoughts by August have invariably turned to American football.


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