PGA Championship Rickie Fowler in Contention, McIlroy Struggling

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 11: Rickie Fowler of the United States reacts to his putt on the 14th hole during the second round of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club on August 11, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 11: Rickie Fowler of the United States reacts to his putt on the 14th hole during the second round of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club on August 11, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy, two early favorites for this year’s PGA Championship, gave their takes on Quail Hollow at the halfway point.

Two champions had different opinions on how Quail Hollow is treating golfers at the PGA Championship.  One of them, Rickie Fowler, is nearer the lead than the other, Rory McIlroy, who is 10 back. As you might expect, Fowler is happier with the course and the changes made to it, and McIlroy believes it’s a trickier situation.

Fowler, past winner at Quail Hollow at the Wells Fargo, finished the second round of the PGA at 3-under par, five back of the leader, Kevin Kisner.  He parred all but three holes with a bogey on the 12th and two birdies at the 14th and 17th.

Rory McIlroy was less fortunate and more inconsistent with bogeys on the 2nd, 3rd,5th and 6th, and birdies at the 7th, 8th and 15th.  He’s sitting at 2-over par. Unfortunately, he would have to post a couple of rounds in the mid to low 60s to overtake the top spot, if Kisner keeps his current form.

Their opinions were markedly different on the course and how it played and how they played.

Fowler characterized his round as not bad.

"“The golf course is really good right now,” he said. “It’s not easy, and you got to drive it in the fairway.  It was fun.”"

Fowler may be the only one to describe the course that way.

"“If you look at the majors, this is probably the hardest test we’ve had this year.  That’s saying something,” he added. “You can’t miss your lines or your numbers by very much and get away with it.”"

He believes the course is two to three shots per round harder than the Wells Fargo version of the

PGA Championship Rory McIlroy
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

course. The reason, according to Fowler, is the Bermuda rough.

"“With the greens being firmer and faster than normal, that adds up, and you can’t really get too aggressive out there,” he explained."

Fowler was not surprised at Kisner’s score because he had made six birdies in round one.

When asked about playing with extra-long hitters, McIlroy and Jon Rahm, Fowler explained that he uses a shorter length driver than McIlroy and Rahm, and he hits a cut with it. Cuts are typically shorter shots, unless hit by Dustin Johnson.

"“The biggest thing for me, I’m trying to get the ball in the fairway and take kind of trouble out of play and minimize mistakes,” he noted."

At Quail Hollow, there also is a comfort factor for Fowler and perhaps for others who have played the Wells Fargo.

"“There’s only a handful (of holes) that are different,” he said.  “I feel very good here.  The fans have been great here.  Everyone, the staff, the locker room guys, fun to be in there and see them.  Familiar faces.  To be at major venue that we have seen a handful of times, that doesn’t happen often outside of Augusta.”"

McIlroy had a different view.

"“I thought conditions were just as tough, if not tougher this morning, as they were yesterday,” he said. “I was battling. I was scrambling well to be under par for that back nine.”"

He was tough on himself saying he didn’t hit it as well off the tee as he needed to and wasn’t in

PGA Championship Rickie Fowler
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images) /

position to go for pins. He also said the course was getting tougher as the day went on, adding that anyone posting a round under 70 was doing very well.

McIlroy rallied in the last few holes with two birdies and finished at 2-over instead of 4-over, which is the projected cut.

Despite being 10 back, he was not discouraged.

"“There’s still 36 holes to go and a lot of golf to be played,” he noted. “I feel like I’m right there in the tournament.”"

Perhaps that’s because McIlroy previously shot a 62 at Quail Hollow.

“I guess a low round used to be a 61 or 62. Now a low round is a 66 or 67.  You’re playing your ass off to get that,” he explained.  He said if he could shoot two 67s he’d have a really good chance for victory.

"“This is not the Quail Hollow we’ve gotten to know over the last ten years,” he added.  “It’s a completely different golf course.  Even if they didn’t do anything else to the golf course and just changed it to full Bermuda like it is now, all of a sudden makes the golf course two shots more difficult.”"

Both Fowler and McIlroy finished in the early afternoon and missed the heavy downpour that stopped play. Since the weather finally moved through, it is possible that those who will finish after the rain will have softer greens, but they will also have wet fairways which will make the course play longer.

Next: PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy's Roller Coaster Continues

TNT and CBS Sports will share weekend coverage of the PGA Championship. Check here for all the times for Saturday and Sunday as play continues at Quail Hollow.