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Of the 13 players to win a major and a World Golf Championship, McIlroy and Woods are the only ones to win them in consecutive starts. In the last 20 years, Woods, Padraig Harrington and Nick Price are the only players to win the final two majors of the year.

McIlroy ended Adam Scott’s 11-week run at No. 1, and his intent is to stay there.

“I think the right guy is at No. 1 at the moment,” Scott said. “I hope that I could go ahead and win this week and maybe go back to No. 1. But there’s no doubt Rory has played the best golf over the last few months.

“It’s only motivating to see Rory play so well,” he said. “I’ve said a lot that I feel this is my time, so I’ve got to beat whatever Rory is throwing out there.”

McIlroy considers this his best major, and the results bear that out. In five starts, he has finished out of the top 10 only one time. That was in 2011 in Atlanta, where he played the last three rounds with an arm injury after trying to hit a shot through a tree root.

Golf courses typically are softer in August because of the heat. Nicklaus courses tend to have generous fairways, not that McIlroy needs any help these days. The only change now is the perception.

“Expectations are higher. Hype is a little higher,” McIlroy said. “So it’s a little bit different this year.”