Slow PGA Championship rounds loom at long, windswept Kiawah

But Kerry Haigh, the man in charge of course set-up for the PGA, hopes that allowing distance-measuring devices to be used by caddies for the first time will help speed up play.

Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, watches his tee shot on the 15th hole during a practice round at the PGA Championship golf tournament on the Ocean Course in Kiawah Island, S.C. on Tuesday.   -  AP

The prospect of slow five-hour plus rounds looms large at this week's PGA Championship, which will be played on the longest course in major history at Kiawah Island starting on Thursday.

The Atlantic oceanside layout can be stretched to a monster 7,876-yards -- and the back nine to more than 4,000 -- though officials are likely to set it up somewhat shorter each day by moving forward some of the tees on holes playing into the wind.

The PGA of America will try to get threesomes around in four hours, 47 minutes in the first two rounds, though former Masters champion Adam Scott thinks that is an unrealistic expectation.

Kerry Haigh, the man in charge of course set-up for the PGA, hopes that allowing distance-measuring devices to be used by caddies for the first time will help speed up play.

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But he is fully aware of the challenges in preventing rounds from slowing to a snail's pace, especially if the wind blows as strongly as forecast and causes players to spend more time than usual trying to gauge club and shot selection.

"The length of the course itself on its own I don't think is that big of an issue as if the wind blows," Haigh said.

"Obviously then it takes a little more time to determine clubs, etcetera, but the distance-measuring devices will certainly help that potentially.

"We'll be out monitoring the pace of play as we do every PGA Championship and very hopeful that the pace will be reasonable."

This week's forecast for bright sunshine, low humidity and a challenging breeze should provide a stern test of every facet of a player's game, and McIlroy for one is expecting nothing else.

"One of the biggest differences that I've noticed is it's not going to be as easy around the greens as it was last time," said the Northern Irishman, who shot 13 under par for an eight-stroke runaway victory in 2012.

"Last time (the rough around the greens was) really strong and dense and lush, so the ball would just sit right up on top and it was so easy to just get your lob wedge out, clip it, spin it. This year they're a little more bare."

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Seven years removed from the most recent of his four major titles, McIlroy missed the cut at last month's Masters, though he bounced back with a confidence-boosting win at the PGA Tour's Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte two weeks ago.

"It was a great sort of validation that I'm working on the right things, but it was just a step in the process," McIlroy said of his latest win.

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