In case you had forgotten that Rory McIlroy is one of the world's most dominant golfers, he went out and proved it on Thursday in the first round of the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina.
The Northern Ireland phenom scored a five-under par 67 on Day 1. As he left the course, he was one shot back of Carl Pettersson and Joost Luiten (Luiten fell back to five-under with McIlroy by the end of the round). The round included five birdies and zero—that's right, zero—bogeys.
McIlroy was never in any serious trouble in his initial round of the tournament.
But most impressively about his round on Thursday, McIlroy dominated the par fives. He managed to par the first and third-longest ones—11 and seven. And on the second-longest hole, 16, he birdied.
On par fours, he was equally good. Of course, he did not bogey any, and of his two birdies, one came on six—a 480-yard tee-to-green arrangement.
The other par-four birdie came on No. 10, a 447-yard concoction of a hole that McIlroy made look simple.
Overall, the Kiawah course covers 7,676 yards total.
McIlroy, despite his relatively diminutive size, managed to drive the ball very well Thursday. That was the key to his low score and high standing as he enters Day 2 in South Carolina.
Perhaps most importantly, McIlroy does not have the 18-hole lead, which tends to curse players in major championships. He may be exactly where he wants and needs to be.
The next three days will show if McIlroy is ready to get back into the fold of major championship greatness.