There's a certain inevitability that is floating around the PGA Championship, and it has a particularly Irish feel to it. That inevitability reared its sneering head on Thursday, and you can expect to see it toying with the rest of the field on Friday as well.
More on that below.
But first, we'll take a look at the television and streaming information for Friday's action at Valhalla. And then we'll make a few predictions for what will go down on the day.
Hint—it has something to do with the "Rory Era."
|General Tournament Coverage||1-7 p.m.||TNT|
|Marquee Group||8:30 a.m.||PGA.com|
|Par 3||1 p.m.||PGA.com|
Let's really go out on a limb here, folks—Rory McIlroy will surge to the lead on the second day of play.
It's a crazy, unbelievable, totally incomprehensible prediction, I know, but what can I say? I just have a feeling that the player who has won two straight tournaments and probably could have already been the tournament's leader had he started stronger on the day will take over the lead on Friday.
Even McIlroy knows big things could be on the horizon, per Jason Sobel of the Golf Channel:
Rory McIlroy: "It could have been a couple better, but 66 on the first day, it's a solid start." Um, yeah. Little bit.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) August 7, 2014
And seriously, the man is absolutely killing it right now, as Justin Ray of the Golf Channel pointed out:
Rory McIlroy's last 9 rounds: all under par, combined -37, scoring avg 66.89, 51 birdies/eagles.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) August 7, 2014
McIlroy is a stroke behind Lee Westwood, and Mr. Westwood isn't just going to disappear and fall out of the running. He'll have a steady day on Friday and give McIlroy someone to worry about heading into the weekend. But no, he won't be able to hold off the sizzling Irishman, who birdied five of his last seven holes on Thursday.
Right now, the rest of the golf world is probably doing this in their heads when contemplating McIlroy's form:
One player who might just be worthy is Phil Mickelson, who finished two-under on the day. Lefty has had a rough season, yes, but he's capable of defying expectations and winning a tournament few pegged him to win at any time. His strong start is an indication that he'll be hanging around the leaders right on through Sunday.
Can Rickie Fowler do the same? Friday is a big day for Fowler, as he too finished two-under and within striking distance. Look for him to keep up the solid play.
Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson, Martin Kaymer, Hunter Mahan, Zach Johnson and Luke Donald were all one-under, so we could go into the weekend with a star-studded group in contention.
Or, some of these golfers might drop off. I don't trust Watson at this tournament, while Garcia is often a tease. Reed is fighting for his Ryder Cup life, so he should stay in the running, while Rose is a player who could really threaten McIlroy over the weekend if he has a big Friday.
If Thursday is any indication, we'll have plenty of big names hovering around the leaderboard. Of course, one of those names won't be Tiger Woods.
Everyone's favorite headline-generating golfer shot a disappointing 74, and it seems unlikely he'll do much better than that on Friday. He talked about his round afterward with
When he was asked if his poor play was the result of limited practice and far too few competitive rounds, Woods shrugged.
'Well, it is what it is,' he said. 'I have the same opportunity as everybody else and just didn't get it done. … I had my swing dialed in on the range. Unfortunately, I didn't carry it to the golf course.'
Woods said his stiff back was a bit of an issue on the course but he said he's used to dealing with it. He did not go to the range following his round, opting instead to seek treatment and then rest 'to make sure this thing is nice and loose for tomorrow.'
It looks like another disappointing major for Mr. Woods. Don't be surprised if he doesn't make the cut.