The second golf major of 2023, the USPGA Championship, is set to unfold this week. Check out the big guns, smokies and Australian contenders at New York’s Oak Hill Country Club.
The USPGA Championship was first held in 1916 and changed from matchplay format to strokeplay in 1958. Oak Hill Country Club becomes just the second course to host the tournament four times in 2023.
Walter Hagen won the USPGA Championship a record five times during the matchplay era – a mark equalled by the great Jack Nicklaus between 1963 and 1980. Tiger Woods, who saluted in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007, is the only other player to win it more than twice in the strokeplay era.
Five Australians – Jim Ferrier (1947), David Graham (1979), Wayne Grady (1990), Steve Elkington (1995) and Jason Day (2015) – have got their hands on the Wanamaker Trophy.
Americans have held a mortgage on the USPGA Championship title since Day’s victory. Brooks Koepka went back-to-back in 2018-19, Collin Morikawa claimed a shock win in 2020 and a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson shattered all kinds of records with his victory in 2021.
Justin Thomas put his name on the honour board for the second time in 2022, finishing at five-under at the Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and beating Will Zalatoris in a playoff. Chilean bolter and Cameron Young finished one stroke behind, while Chris Kirk and English duo Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood were one shot further back in equal-fifth.
THE TOP CONTENDERS
The world No.1 is the man to beat after snaring his second major with a four-shot win at the Masters last month. Since then he finished top-15 at the RBC Heritage and was runner-up at the Mexico Championship, continuing a sensational season for the Spaniard. Rahm’s best efforts at the PGA Championship were tying for fourth in 2018 and tying for eighth in 2021, but he looks a huge chance of making his major collection three-quarters complete.
Jon Rahm has his eyes set on something more than the grand slam. 👀 pic.twitter.com/VzzPjVYdld
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) May 16, 2023
Unbelievably consistent, Scheffler has not finished worse than 12th in his last 12 tournaments. He won the Phoenix Open and The Players Championship, while he tied for 10th at the Masters. The 2022 Masters champion has finished outside the top 10 just twice in the last nine majors, though he did miss the cut at last year’s PGA Championship. A worthy equal-favourite.
McIlroy surged into favouritism for the Masters on the back of some strong form…and went on to miss the cut. It was a bitterly disappointing showing as the Northern Ireland great’s wait for a fifth major approaches nine years. McIlroy won this tournament in 2012 and 2014, but tying for 47th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his only hit-out since the Masters was hardly an ideal lead-in.
“When you’ve got the greatest player of all time giving you advice, you’re not going to turn that down.”
Rory McIlroy on his conversation with Tiger Woods. pic.twitter.com/OsNnoGKg5k
— Golf Channel (@GolfChannel) May 16, 2023
One of the best players on the tour yet to win a major, Schauffele heads into the PGA Championship in hot form. He tied for 10th at the Masters before coming at the RBC Heritage and finishing runner-up at the Wells Fargo. He’s a 10-time top-10 finisher at major level, though he’s only managed that once at the PGA Championship (tying for 10th in 2020).
AUSSIES IN THE USPGA FRAME
British Open champ Smith underwhelmed at the Masters – his first major since defecting to the LIV Golf League – finishing back in 34th, 16 shots off Rahm’s pace. But he’s bounced back with three straight top-six LIV tournament finishes since. The PGA Championship has been a bit of a bogey event, with a career-best placing of equal-13th last year.
The 2015 PGA Championship winner fell off the golfing map over the past couple of years, competing at just four of the last eight majors prior to this year, missing the cut twice and finishing no better than 44th. He tied for 39th at the Masters but victory at the AT&T Byron Nelson last weekend has seen his odds slashed for this tournament.
Jason Day is BACK!
He leads the @attbyronnelson and is bogey free on his round!
— NUCLR GOLF STATS (@NUCLRGOLFSTATS) May 14, 2023
Like Day, the 2013 Masters champ arrives at the Oak Hill Country Club in fine touch. He also tied for 39th at the Masters but has hit a rich vein of form in the past fortnight, tying for fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship and tying for eighth at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Scott is a four-time top-eight finisher at the PGA Championship – including in 2018 (third) and ’19 – but he missed the cut in 2021-22.
Min Woo Lee
Rated a Masters dark horse after finishing in a tie for sixth at The Players Championship, Lee missed the cut at Augusta, and the subsequent RBC Heritage and AT&T Byron Nelson. This is just the 24-year-old seventh major appearance, missing the cut on USPGA Championship debut in 2022.
Aussie golf sensation Min Woo Lee is promising to keep entertaining the crowds at this week's PGA Championship in the US.
— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) May 16, 2023