Charlotte (AFP)

Rory McIlroy humbled Quail Hollow on his way to two US PGA victories, setting a course record of 62 then breaking it with a 61, but the course is taking its revenge this week at the PGA Championship.

Toughened for hosting its first major tournament, the 7,600-yard, par-71 layout has played havoc with fourth-ranked McIlroy's title hopes, leaving the record scorecard posted in the clubhouse a relic of a bygone era.

And the edge McIlroy was thought to have based on past success at Quail Hollow has been shattered with the Northern Ireland star firing back-to-back 72s to open the year's final major tournament.

"I guess a low round used to be a 61 or a 62," McIlroy said. "A low round now is a 66 or a 67. You're playing your ass off to get that."

And the old chum of a course McIlroy had expected has been replaced by a monster.

"It surprised me. This is not the Quail Hollow we have gotten to know over the last 10 years," McIlroy said. "It's a completely different golf course."

It's longer than before. One hole was broken into two. And Bermuda grass was made the surface to play upon.

"Even if they didn't do anything else with 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, just with the lies that you get in the rough, trickiness around the greens," McIlroy said.

"After what I've witnessed over the past two days, no, I'm not surprised to see so many guys be over par."

McIlroy began on the back nine and made eight pars and a birdie at the par-5 15th.

"I was battling. I was scrambling well to be under par for that back nine," McIlroy said.

"I probably didn't quite hit it as well off the tee as I did yesterday and wasn't putting myself in positions where I could go at a lot of pins. But greens are firm. Some of the pin positions are really tricky. Anything under par today is a really good score."

McIlroy made four bogeys in five holes, the last a lip out for par at the par-3 sixth. He answered with birdies at the par-5 seventh and par-4 eighth but was 10 back of leader Kevin Kisner.

"Had a little bit of a mini-rally at the end which I needed," McIlroy said. "I feel a lot better about myself being 2-over instead of 4-over. I think it's quite a big difference.

"But the four bogeys on the front nine, that's just down to being out of position off the tee and not being able to get it very close with my second shot."

McIlroy hasn't given up hope of taking a fifth major title this weekend.

"If I shoot two 67s over the weekend, I'm going to have a really good chance. A lot of golf to be played. I still feel I'm right there in the tournament. It's only going to get tougher as this course dries up a little bit more."

Agence France-Presse

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