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Rory McIlroy confident that the stars are aligning as he returns to 'brawny' Valhalla

The year's second major golf championship often strives harder to live up to the more illustrious sounding titles of the other three on the roster.

This year, that’s the case probably more than ever before with the USPGA moving back, after a decade, to Valhalla in Kentucky.

It’s like the PGA of America looked at the fractured nature of men’s professional golf and found a way to paper over the cracks for one week in the calendar by including no fewer than 16 LIV Golf Series players to augment the best of the PGA Tour and align the strongest forces in the game in the deepest field of the entire year.

So, what the USPGA title might lack a little in terms of absolute grandeur, it makes up for in substance.

This is going to be the hardest won men's title of 2024 at a venue which, a bit like the championship, is relatively unloved and yet churns out quality and exciting tournament conclusions.

As 18 hole layouts go in the staging of the golf majors there are rarely too many gushing adjectives attached to descriptions of Valhalla, which was opened almost 40 years ago over a vast 485 acres of Kentucky Hills.

If a piece of golf course land could be described as 'brawny’, then this is it.

If those kind of words extend the conversation down the road of what type of player will thrive on this particular Jack Nicklaus design, then there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that muscular ball striking will really matter.

The previous two USPGA winners at Valhalla, Tiger Woods in 2000 and Rory McIlroy in 2014, were both inside the top three in driving distance when they triumphed.

With 151 yards added in length to the layout since the last championship was staged in Kentucky and with softened terrain after four inches of rain in the last two weeks,