(Reuters) – Five storylines to follow as the best players in the world descend upon Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the May 19-22 PGA Championship.
After returning to competition at the Masters in April, 14 months after nearly losing his right leg in a car crash, Tiger Woods looks set to tee it up again this week.
The 46-year-old Woods played a practice round at Southern Hills last month as part of his preparations for the year’s second major and is listed among the names of golfers holding a pre-tournament news conference on Tuesday.
The 15-times major champion, who has already said he planned to play the British Open in July, made an encouraging start to the Masters with an opening one-under-par 71 but finished 13 over for the week and in 47th place.
The last time the PGA Championship was held at Southern Hills was in 2007, when Woods triumphed by two shots to win the event for the fourth time but the layout has since undergone a dramatic renovation.
In his last major, Scottie Scheffler enjoyed the biggest win of his career with a three-stroke Masters victory in April to extend an impressive run during which he won four times in six tournament starts.
The world number one, who had been without a PGA Tour win until his torrid run began in February, now heads to a layout he has touted as his favourite course and where he won the 2015 Big 12 Championship while competing for the University of Texas.
Scheffler, who boasts an immaculate short game and is one of the best putters on tour, visited Southern Hills last week for a practice round and reportedly carded a six-under-par 64.
The 25-year-old Scheffler has finished inside the top 10 in both of his PGA Championship appearances with his best showing coming in 2020 when he earned a share of fourth place.
SPIETH’S GRAND SLAM BID
Jordan Spieth makes his sixth attempt at securing the victory that will make him only the sixth player to complete the coveted career Grand Slam of golf’s four majors and arrives at Southern Hills full of confidence.
Spieth made a surprise early exit from the Masters in April where he missed the cut at Augusta National for the first time in his career but has since proven that he has re-captured some of the magic he enjoyed early in his career.
The 28-year-old Texan recovered quickly from his Masters letdown as he enjoyed a playoff victory the following week at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and on Sunday finished solo second at the AT&T Byron Nelson in McKinney, Texas.
If Spieth can triumph at the PGA Championship, where his best result was a runner-up showing in 2015, he would join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in golf’s elite club of Grand Slam winners.
Four-times major champion Rory McIlroy will bring plenty of confidence to Southern Hills this week given he has recorded top-five finishes at his last two events, including a runner-up finish at the Masters.
Already one of the longest hitters off the tee, McIlroy’s approach game, especially from shorter distances, has been heating up this season and if that form continues he could find himself in the mix come Sunday.
In his last major start, the Northern Irishman made a late charge to match the lowest final round in Masters history with a closing 64 that he capped off with an incredible bunker shot for birdie at the 18th hole.
Reigning PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson will not be at Southern Hills this week as he decided to extend his hiatus from the sport following the reaction to comments he made regarding the Saudi-backed golf league.
Without the six-times major winner in the field, this will mark the first time the reigning PGA Championship winner did not defend his title since 2008 when Tiger Woods missed out while recovering from knee surgery.
Mickelson became golf’s oldest major champion at last year’s PGA Championship when, less than a month shy of turning 51, he held off Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen to triumph by two shots at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)