Rory McIlroy: Expert Picks for Golf's Best Young Player at PGA Championship

Mike ChiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 8, 2012

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC - AUGUST 06:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a shot during a practice round of the 2012 PGA Championship at the Ocean Course on August 6, 2012 in Kiawah Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy entered this season with high expectations, and while he hasn't lived up to them thus far, there is still one more major remaining on the schedule in the form of the PGA Championship.

McIlroy's performance this year has to be considered a disappointment, but a win this week would most definitely change that perception.

McIlroy hasn't been a factor in the past couple of majors after winning last year's US Open, and there has been some conversation with regards to whether the pressure of being a top guy is getting to him.

McIlroy had a poor start at the Bridgestone, but stormed back for a solid finish last week, so perhaps he is hitting his stride at the right time.

It remains to be seen whether he can carry that momentum into one of the year's biggest tournaments, but here are some expert predictions from across the Internet for where the Northern Irish phenom will finish in the year's final major.


Kevin Maguire ( senior golf editor)

The past 16 major winners on the PGA Tour have been different, but if McIlroy finds a way to finish on top on Sunday, that trend will officially be broken.

One expert who expects that to be the case is Kevin Maguire of Kiawah Island in South Carolina will play host to this year's PGA Championship, and he believes that it will play to McIlroy's strengths.

Maguire feels that Kiawah Island's "links-like layout" is something that will be comfortable for McIlroy and may lead him to victory.

Although McIlroy likely grew up playing on links courses in Northern Ireland, he was a non-factor at the Open Championship and hasn't done a lot of damage on links courses on the PGA Tour.

Perhaps Maguire thinks that is just an aberration, though, as he likes McIlroy's combination of improving play and course familiarity this weekend.


Alex Kreitman (Charleston News Live 5 media research director)

Alex Kreitman of Charleston's News Live 5 station may not be considered a golf expert by many, but he is very familiar with Kiawah Island and its tendencies, so his opinion is certainly one worth listening to.

Kreitman named three golfers worth watching in the PGA Championship and McIlroy was one of them. Like Maguire, Kreitman listed the course and its conditions as a reason why McIlroy might be able to pace the field.

Kiawah Island tends to be awfully windy due to its proximity to the ocean, and European players aren't averse to playing in the wind.

Kreitman also pointed to McIlroy's ability off the tee. McIlroy is in the top-10 on the PGA Tour in driving distance and Kiawah Island is the longest golf course to ever host the PGA Championship, according to Kreitman.

McIlroy will likely have to walk a fine line between distance and accuracy on his drives due to less-than-ideal wind conditions, but if he can use his length off the tee to his advantage, he will be a force to be reckoned with.


Jonathan Wall (Yahoo! Sports)

Yahoo! Sports' Jonathan Wall didn't exactly make a prediction for the PGA Championship, but he is clearly very high on McIlroy's chances as the tournament approaches.

Wall is another guy who is buying into McIlroy's Bridgestone Invitational swoon and he is encouraged by his red-hot driving as well.

Wall said that McIlroy was second in driving distance and greens in regulation last weekend, and both are integral at Kiawah Island.

It remains to be seen whether McIlroy can string a couple of good tournaments together in a row. There is absolutely no question that McIlroy is one of the most talented players on tour, but almost anyone can win a major these days, so talent alone isn't enough.

McIlroy will have to show some of the mettle that true champions such as Tiger Woods often display, and if he can do that, then I'll give him a fighting chance like the aforementioned experts do.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter