FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Rory McIlroy winced slightly when he heard the statistic: This week will mark the 11th time he has competed in the PGA Championship, quite a large number for someone who just turned 30 less than two weeks ago.
"I definitely don't feel 30," the two-time PGA champion said Tuesday at Bethpage Black. "This is my 11th PGA Championship. ... It's like, where did those go?
"I don't know what age I feel. My body is as good as it has been in a couple of years, which I'm really grateful for. Every week that I tee it up, I feel like I'm gaining more experience that I can put into the next tournament and the next tournament. I still believe my best days are ahead of me for sure."
His days this season haven't been too bad. A winner of four majors, McIlroy has posted eight top-10 finishes in 10 tournaments, including a victory in March at the Players Championship. In 36 rounds thus far, he has broken par 27 times.
He is coming off a tie for eighth at his most recent event, the Wells Fargo Championship, although he was two shots back entering the final round and closed with a 73. He said he put too much pressure on himself trying to make birdies on what he called the "scoreable holes" at Quail Hollow.
"But I felt overall I gave myself a decent chance," he said. "It was a good week to see where my game was. Those things that I sort of worked on last week [included] a lot of time around the short-game area, making sure that I was making good decisions and picking the right shot to hit at the right time."
McIlroy said keeping the ball in the fairway will be the most important task if he expects to challenge for his third Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.
"I think that's a big stat," he said. "Obviously, you still need to get it out there, but at the same time you're going to give yourself a much better chance playing from these fairways because it is playing long, and if you start to miss these fairways, you're not going to be able to get to the greens out of the rough with a 4- or 5-iron."
McIlroy said part of his downtime off the golf course at this time of year is spent watching the NBA playoffs.
"Unbelievable game between the Raptors and the 76ers the other night," he said. "Looking forward to the two series that are coming up. You know, just anything to get my mind away from this.
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