You'll be surprised where and when Rory McIlroy last paid a green fee

Rory Mc Ilroy Putter

Considering he plays golf for a living, it should perhaps come as no surprise that it has been a long time since Rory McIlroy last paid a green fee.

However, you might be surprised where he most recently parted with cash to play.

Speaking to the media ahead of this week's US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park - a municipal course in San Francisco - the Northern Irishman revealed that he last spent money on a green fee back in 2005... at Valderrama.

The world No.3 splurged €250 to play the 1997 Ryder Cup host venue in southern Spain back when he was just a fresh-faced teenager.

"I've always liked the look of Valderrama," he explained. "I was in Spain. Obviously, it was a Ryder Cup course. The tour championship of the European Tour was there for a lot of years.

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"Yeah, I spent a few months' worth of pocket money to go and play."

McIlroy is bidding to win Wanamaker trophy for the third time this week. His US PGA victory in 2014 remains the most recent of his four major titles but, with such a good track record in the event and having won the WGC-Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park in 2015, he comes into this week in confident mood - even though he has struggled to find his best form since the PGA Tour returned from lockdown.

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"There's been good scores in there," he added. "I shot a 63 at Colonial; I shot a 65 to make the cut at Hilton Head; a 63 at Travelers, a couple of good scores last week in Memphis. So the good stuff is in there.

"It's just the sharpness and being efficient with my scoring. Turning the 73s that I've shot into 70s. That's the sort of stuff that I think, when you're sharp and you're playing a bit and you're sort of in your groove, you're able to do that a little better, and that's the stuff that I haven't been able to do since coming back out here.

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"I feel like everything else is pretty good. I'm driving it well. My iron play is good for the most part. It's just getting that key up-and-down to keep momentum going, holing a putt here or there to keep the round going for the day. Just all that stuff that when you're feeling it and when you're in a good spot. That's when you start to do those things and momentum comes from there.

"I feel like my game is really close. Even the mediocre scores that I've shot I've come off the golf course thinking, well, I actually didn't play too badly, I just didn't get a lot out of the round. If I can just keep playing like that and keep being a little bit more efficient with my scoring, I'll be right where I need to be."

McIlroy gets his title bid underway in the company of Justin Thomas and Tiger Woods at 4.33pm (UK time) on Thursday. Check out the full list of tee times here.

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