Originally written on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 10/15/14

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 02: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tee's off at the 13th during the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club on May 2, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Kiawah Island, S.C. - He isn't leading, but he might as well be. As Ernie Els said, "A one shot lead isn't really a lead, because a guy can birdie one hole and your lead is gone." Rory McIlroy is close enough to the lead to have everyone's attention. And if continues to play as he did on Thursday, he could run away from the rest of the PGA Championship field just as he did 14 months ago at the U.S. Open. McIlroy hit every fairway at the Ocean Course, most of them never venturing far from the center. This feat was magnified by the fact that he hit 10 drivers, a club that has become an endangered species in major championships. "When you're hitting it in the fairway and you're hitting it long, it gives you a big advantage over a good percentage of the field," McIlroy said. The sixth hole today was a prime example. A 480-yard par-four, McIlroy hit a tee shot that looked like it had been blasted out of a canon. He had wedge to the pin and made his fifth birdie of the day. To put that into perspective, until the year 1980s the 13th hole at Augusta National, a par-five, played 480 yards, and half the field laid-up with their second shots. McIlroy's opening tee shot at the 10th (he started on the back nine today) went 70 yards past fellow competitor Jim Furyk. That led to another wedge close for birdie. "You see a drive go down the middle of the fairway 330 yards, it's going to give you a bit of confidence, too," McIlroy said. "So, that's nice." When he is on, McIlroy plays the game Tiger Woods used to when he was winning majors by double digit margins. Long and straight, he rarely has more than a short iron into a par-four and can reach all the par-fives in two. His focus and his putting have let him down at times, but today, he rolled every putt with perfect speed and never once appeared distracted. "I was working very hard on technical stuff the last few weeks, and then a slight mental adjustment as well," he said. "I felt like I was maybe hitting too many balls on the range. I just needed to go out there and play a bit more on the course and see shots." Perhaps the best tip he got before play began came from former PGA Champion Dave Stockton, who was the U.S. Ryder Cup captain in 1991 at Kiawah Island. Stockton, now one of the sought-after putting instructors in the world, made a slight adjustment to McIlroy's stroke. But then Stockton said, "Go out there and have fun. Enjoy it. Smile." "That's something I've tried to do," McIlroy said. "It's definitely helped." He has also tried to play a more mature and patient game, something that will make a difference as the wind picks up and the Ocean Course dries out. "You have to have the right attitude," he said. "You have to realize that to give yourself a chance going into the final day of a major, there are 54 holes to play (ahead of time). Especially on a golf course like this, middle of the greens is totally okay. Every time you hit it in the middle of the greens, you're going to have a chance. "And for me, it's about giving myself as many chances as possible."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Roger Goodell will have to testify in Ray Rice case

Report: Zach Mettenberger to start for Titans over Locker

LaMarr Woodley likely done for season with biceps injury

Report: Some Seahawks think Wilson isn’t 'black enough'

Darrelle Revis sent home for being late, misses practice

Report: Texas to pay scholarship athletes $10K per year

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Widespread academic fraud occurred at North Carolina

NHL postpones Senators/Leafs game after Ottawa shootings

Lions send player home from London after cutting him

Brandon Marshall on Jay Cutler: We're like brothers

NBA Board of Governors votes against NBA draft lottery reform

Jamaal Charles admits he hid concussion symptoms

WATCH: Penguins perform 'O Canada' following tragedy

WATCH: Cutest grandma challenges Dwyane Wade to game of one-on-one

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

Porn star: No one parties harder than Sebastian Janikowski

Outrageous college football predictions: Week 9

World Series Game 2 Preview: Giants vs. Royals

Michigan St. fans troll Michigan campus, paint 'M' green

NFL MVP Watch Week 8: Is Manning still the King?

Fan blows $300 buying hot dogs for his section at World Series

Mo’ne Davis' Chevy commercial won't affect amateur status

WATCH: Isaiah Thomas forces OT, stares down Mayweather

Golf News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Report: Goodell will have to testify

Penguins do 'O Canada' following tragedy

UEFA Champions League midway report: Groups A – D

Porn star: No one parties like Janikowski

Report: Expect Florida to make a run at Bob Stoops

The San Francisco Giants are zombies

10 bold predictions for NFL Week 8

Pitcher's wife leaves generous tip

Nicklaus defends Jameis Winston

NFL players who could be traded by the deadline

Royals fans sleeping during Game 1

Rice files grievance against Ravens

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.