McIlroy, McDowell say 'links-style course' experience won't count for much

McIlroy and McDowell
McIlroy and McDowell

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - The two most high-profile Northern Irishmen in golf deflected questions by media members on Wednesday that their "highland" experience puts them in good stead for the 2012 PGA Championship at The Ocean Course.

US Open champ from 2011, 23-year-old Rory McIlroy, was the first to dispel the notion around 10 a.m.

"Not really. I mean, I think if the golf course was playing a little firmer, maybe. But because it's so soft, of course there's going to be a little bit of wind, but it's not playing like it really is designed to be played or how it should be played."

A large part of that can be attributed to the relatively heavy rainfall which has left the course a bit softer than normal, something 33-year-old Graeme McDowell alluded to, "It seems to flood quick and it seems to drain very quickly, but there's no doubt, this golf course is a long course, and this little bit of rain is going to make it paly a lot longer."

McDowell continued,"I love the golf course, I kind of describe it as a links course through the air. When it blows hwere, the wind is a massive factor, you know, strength and direction, but it certainly does not play linksy along the ground."

The Portrush native noted the run-off areas providing a lack of options, "You are either going to chip them out of play completely or you're probably going to hit something very low along them, like a putter. It really doesnt' give you the type of imagination that a real link gives you. They are very soft and they don't bump and run like a links golf course does."

Only the ocean breeze could give a links player a leg-up in this competition,"It's heavier.  It affects the ball more.  Perhaps why I've performed well on the West Coast, for example, is that breeze coming off the Pacific.  It just affects the golf ball quite differently from an inland United States course."

It's not just the rain that will be limiting the options for golfers this week, but the physical makeup of the grass itself.

McIlroy described the grass as "spiny" and said, "When you see guys chipping off of greens and hitting wedge shots, it bites a lot [...] even when the greens are firm, just this certain type of grass, it just really grabs the ball."

Hopefully, for spectators, the sticky nature of the grass will inspire the players to be aggressive and go right at the pin, something McIlroy alluded to in closing.