If you were betting your house on a victor of this week’s 100th PGA Championship at the storied Bellerive Country Club in Missouri‚ you wouldn’t put it on one of the six South Africans in the field.
Tiger Woods, who has played his way from nowhere at the start of the season all the way to 20th in Ryder Cup points, will already be going to France no matter what. He once said it couldn’t be a great year without winning a major.
Woods, eight months into a comeback from spinal fusion surgery, and McIlroy, seeking his first major win since the 2014 PGA, will be joined by defending champion Justin Thomas for the first two days over the 7,316-yard, par-70 Bellerive Country Club layout.
And Bellerive is not a familiar course, as it last hosted a big event 10 years ago when the BMW Championship was played here. A victory would vault him into the driver’s seat to win PGA Tour Player of the Year honors as DJ has three victories this season.
“Now, I’ve had a bum knee most of those years, but I could wheel it around that”. This tournament often favours the bigger drivers and few are better equipped in that department than the 29-year-old Northern Irishman.
“I like my chances in match play, ” Woods said of the format used for the Ryder Cup.
This is a deep friendship that transcends any rivalry, and Thomas was never overly bothered by the mention of being Spieth’s close friend.
At any golf tournament Rory McIlroy, a charismatic four-time major victor, is the main attraction except when Woods is also competing and then the Northern Irishman is left to handicap the American’s chances as much as his own.
“I think will be a special moment for golf”, he said.
There remains another shadow that was even stronger at Bellerive, and Thomas fully expects that. “It felt very familiar”, Woods added.
Kostis should know. He helped his own son, who had a similar procedure in nearly the exact same place in his lower back, make the same kind of adjustments to his swing.
He took an ice bath.
Missed cuts in his past two majors – the US Open and British Open – are causes for concern but his solo fourth at the Masters provided further evidence that Rahm is more than comfortable fighting at the top of the leaderboard at the biggest tournaments. All that did was ratchet up the hysteria that perhaps another major is in the cards.
PGA of America allowed players to wear shorts during practice rounds, but they must return to pants when the PGA Championship begins.
“It will be pretty insane out there”, Thomas said. “That was probably a sign that I should have picked up a lot quicker on”. So yeah, it will be a cool week. That player was Tiger Woods.
Furyk will know the identity of his eight automatic qualifiers at the end of the US PGA on Sunday evening, with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed having already secured their place on the team.
Jim Furyk won’t just be focused on his own score this week at the PGA Championship. He’s a four-time PGA Championship victor, with the last in 2007.
Grand Slam: Jordan Spieth gets his second attempt at becoming the sixth player to capture the career Grand Slam. One of the longest hitters on Tour could have a field day at Charmin-soft Bellerive as he looks to improve on his underappreciated major record.
Wednesday, and the final day of practice for the final Major of the year, promises more thunderstorms.