Finally, after a winless drought of 18 months, Rory McIlroy emerged victorious at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in North Carolina on Sunday past.
As you'd perhaps expect, much of the post-tournament chatter has turned to McIlroy's ability to capture a fifth major championship at next week's PGA Championship at Kiawah Island.
While there may be a couple of reasons to suggest the former world number one could fall short, being positives sorts here at Hole19 HQ, we've listed a few reasons Rory McIlroy could win the 2021 PGA Championship.
Success Breeds Success
McIlroy will arrive at Kiawah Island for the 103rd PGA Championship with a real spring in his step thanks to last week's win at Quail Hollow. After his well-documented struggles, the confidence from winning immediately prior to a major start can't be underestimated.
The famous competitive spirit certainly hasn't waned over the years either. Recent comments on the proposed Golf Super League are further evidence of a player who remains wholly motivated to win golf tournaments above all else.
"People can see it for what it is, which is a money grab, which is fine if that's what you're playing golf for - to make as much money as possible."
It was back in 2017 when McIlroy parted ways with his long-term caddie JP Fitzgerald. Since then he has paired with childhood friend Harry Diamond and, during the winless stretch, the combination raised a few eyebrows at times.
Fast forward to last Sunday’s post-round interview and McIlroy credited Diamond with a potentially tournament-saving pep talk on the 72nd hole. A nice way to silence the doubters, you might say.
McIlroy will argue that validation was never required in his eyes. As a consummate professional he would employ Diamond only if he believed the partnership could deliver wins. What's undeniable is the fact that the victory at Quail Hollow will have lifted a sizable amount of pressure from both men - and we could see the fruits of that next week.
He Loves Kiawah Island
We probably don't have to remind you of the 2012 PGA Championship win when McIlroy blitzed the field to win by eight clear shots. Back then, the fearless youngster was following up a similar eight-shot win at the U.S. Open in 2011 - leaving the golf world open-mouthed in the process.
"Obviously I played really well there last time. I'm honestly not sure whether they've made any changes to the golf course since, but I'll go up there and try to do my homework and re-familiarize myself with the layout a little bit. But yeah, it's certainly great timing. This is obviously a huge confidence boost going in there knowing that my game is closer than it has been. I'll be able to poke holes in everything that I did today, it's certainly far from perfect, but this one is validation that I'm on the right track."
Returning to the scene of that dominating win is perfect timing. Added to the confidence from the Wells Fargo Championship win, it could be a recipe for success during the second major of 2021.
Long-Hitters Should Prosper
We're glad to see that McIlroy has abandoned his previous attempts to find more length off the tee. The Northern Irishman admitted to getting a little side-tracked in trying to compete with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau in what amounted to a golf-style distance arms race.
He's always been one of the best drivers on Tour both in terms of distance and accuracy. What he's found to his cost recently is that extra yards off the tee has been cancelled out by a massive drop off in accuracy.
At 7,848 yards, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island will play as the longest golf course in major championship history so McIlroy's controlled bombs off the tee could prove to be an important weapon.
He's Keeping it Simple
Recently McIlroy employed the services of world-famous swing coach Pete Cowen in an attempt to reignite his game. According to McIlroy's post-Quail Hollow breakdown, the win came thanks to a renewed focus on keeping things simple.
Below, his new coach explains that the partnership is designed to build upon the important work already undertaken by Michael Bannon and that he isn't a long-term replacement.
While there may a few obvious reasons to counter our optimism for major no.5 next week, we're hopeful of a strong showing. If McIlroy manages to get back in the major-winning saddle, we'll be ecstatic.