After finally producing the opening round of major golf every Rory fan has been begging for, McIlroy now has the world truly believing he can add a fifth major to his collection, eight years after his last.
Such has been the seemingly endless cycle of poor opening major rounds from McIlroy, followed by stunning final rounds to land him a top 5/10 finish, that the expectation of this outcome has begun to overcome hope.
It was certainly an excellent opening round from the Down native, one that you would have to hope will help him put his recent mental block at majors behind him. He has consistently struggled in the first rounds of golf's biggest events over the last half decade or so.
That was a topic of conversation on The Buildup this week, where Stephen Ferris and one-time European Tour winner Damian McGrane discussed McIlroy's consistent poor run on the opening day of these tournaments.
McGrane said it had certainly become quite the issue for the 33-year old, something that had contrasted with the approach of Offaly's Shane Lowry, who seems to thrive on this stage.
Are we starting to worry that Rory is actually afraid of not winning the majors at this point?
I think he plays golf as if he’s terrified to let people down by not winning more majors. Whereas Shane Lowry might have less game, but Shane Lowry now believes that he actually can win majors, and he turns up at major tournaments and can find another gear.
But Rory turns up at the major tournaments and he’s a bit sheepish in my opinion. I think Shane Lowry’s actually the opposite he turns up and he can find another gear to go forward.
Rory’s by far a superior player but it just doesn’t seem to fall right for him, the fit doesn’t fall for him in the majors. It’s as if he’s too desperate to achieve success for his fan base.
Rory McIlroy surged into the lead on the first day of the PGA Championship.
On the Buildup this week, Stephen Ferris and Damien McGrane discussed Rory's mentality at majors.
It was great to see Rory playing so well on the first day of a major! pic.twitter.com/LCIlmtUaSQ
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) May 20, 2022
This was McIlroy’s best opening round in a major since his first major win at the 2011 US Open. It certainly bodes well for him that each of his four major wins have come after strong opening rounds where he was either leading or one shot off the pace.
It would be brilliant to see him add to his major tally this weekend. You get the sense that if he can just get one, a few more should soon follow.