15 Surprising Players Who Drove It Better Than Rory McIlroy In Round One Of The PGA Championship

Despite an impressive five-under-par round of 66, Rory McIlroy was less than convincing off the tee and these surprising names actually drove the ball better...

Rory McIlroy, Wyatt Worthington II and Y. E Yang hitting driver at the PGA Championship 2024
These surprising names all outperformed Rory McIlroy off the tee in round one of the PGA Championship...
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A strong start from Rory McIlroy at the PGA Championship is exactly what the doctor ordered as he bids to end a ten year Major drought, but considering his scoring was so good he didn't have his best day with the driver.

McIlroy is famous for being superb off the tee, with his length allowing him to access parts of the course other pros can only dream of reaching. The strength of this area of his game has helped him to win many of his PGA Tour and Major titles, but you might be surprised by the list of names that performed better off the tee in round one of the PGA Championship...

How Did Rory McIlroy Perform Off The Tee In Round 1?

Rory McIlroy hitting driver at the PGA Championship

Rory McIlroy lost more than a stroke to the field off the tee during round one at the PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When put into the context of his overall performance in round one, Rory's off the tee game left much to be desired. He hit just 50 percent of his fairways on the par-4 and par-5 holes, and lost more than a stroke on the field in total.

When you consider that he has gained more than one stroke per round on average,  in the last 12 months, that's a two shot swing that could potentially prevent him from lifting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday.

Six birdies and just one bogey in an opening round of 66 demonstrates how the rest of his game saved him from a disappointing start, and suggests we could see more from Rory if he can get the driver firing once again.

The Club Professionals

A total of 21 club professionals qualified for the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club this week, including darling of 2023, Michael Block. You might be surprised to learn that of the 21 club pros teeing it up this week, more than fifty percent (11) of them drove the ball better than Rory McIlroy in the first round.

Club pros that outdrove Rory McIlroy in round one of the 2024 PGA Championship:

  • Andy Svoboda
  • Jared Jones
  • Braden Shattuck
  • Josh Speight
  • Jeff Kellen
  • Preston Cole
  • Matt Dobyns
  • Zac Oakley
  • Jeremy Wells
  • Jesse Meuller
  • Wyatt Worthington II

Wyatt Worthington II hitting driver at the PGA Championship 2024

Club professional Wyatt Worthington II performed better off the tee than Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in round one of the 2024 PGA Championship

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory has accumulated more professional wins than the combined number of PGA Championship appearances held by the 21 club professionals in action this week, impressively five of them gained strokes on the field from the tee.

Wyatt Worthington II was perhaps the biggest success story of the lot in round one, ranking in the top-6 for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee, marginally behind World No.1 Scottie Scheffler and slightly ahead of tournament leader Xander Schauffele.

Seven club pros also drove the ball better than one of the greatest players of all time, Tiger Woods.

The Tour Pros

Y. E Yang after hitting driver at the PGA Championship 2024

Y. E Yang drove the ball 40 yards shorter than McIlroy with his longest drive, but outperformed the Northern Irishman off the tee in round one

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory's tee troubles weren't just bettered by a number of club professionals, however, as a few surprising tour professionals also crept ahead of the Northern Irishman.

The most notably surprising name to out perform Rory with the driver is former PGA Champion Y. E Yang. He gained almost a full shot on McIlroy from the tee in round one, despite his longest drive of the day reaching just 290 yards – 40 yards shorter than the longest drive of McIlroy.

Rory only marginally outperformed 53-year-old Rich Beem off the tee, by less than 0.02 shots, and ranked behind other shorter hitters like Alexander Bjork, Zac Blair and Francesco Molinari.

On a course that was billed to reward distance, that is somewhat surprising, but it is encouraging that if Rory can find his consistency in this typically strong area of his game, he should continue to climb the leaderboard and contend for a long overdue fifth Major Championship title. 

Barry Plummer
Staff Writer

Barry Plummer is our Staff Writer, joining in January 2024 after seven years as a PE Teacher. He now writes about instruction, working closely with Golf Monthly's Top 50 Coaches to provide hints and tips about all aspects of the game. As someone who came into golf at a later age, Barry is very passionate about supporting the growth of the game and creating opportunities for everyone to access it. A member at Sand Moor Golf Club in Leeds, he looks forward to getting out on the course at least once a week and making up for lost time in the pursuit of a respectable handicap.

Barry is currently playing:

Driver: Ping G425

Hybrid: TaylorMade Stealth 4 Hybrid

Irons: Mizuno JPX 921 4-PW

Wedges: TaylorMade RAC 60, Callaway Jaws MD5 54

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour