5 most compelling storylines at the PGA Championship
The PGA Championship was always going to attract plenty of eyeballs in the golfing world, but the release of the field list certainly added hype to the season's second major.
Phil Mickelson's decision not to defend his title after initially committing to the event dampened things Friday, but with Tiger Woods likely to play his second event on the comeback trail, there's still plenty of buzz around Southern Hills.
Here are five storylines to watch this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tiger back at Southern Hills
How much buzz does Woods bring to an event in 2022? An impromptu practice round in April saw a helicopter follow the 15-time major champion around Southern Hills.
While the Tulsa course has certainly changed following a major restoration a few years ago, Woods claimed a two-stroke victory the last time it hosted a major - the 2007 PGA Championship. That win included a sizzling 63 in Round 2, matching the lowest round in a major championship ever at the time.
Though the 46-year-old faded on the weekend during his remarkable comeback at the Masters in April, making the cut in his return from a horrific car accident in 2021 was an astonishing feat.
As the name suggests, Southern Hills certainly isn't a flat layout, but the rolling terrain pales in comparison to the slopes at Augusta. That should make things significantly easier for Woods in his quest for a 16th major championship victory.
Spieth's career Grand Slam
Jordan Spieth's roller-coaster ride comes to Southern Hills with the 28-year-old looking to complete the career Grand Slam.
Spieth followed up the first missed cut of his career at the Masters with an incredible victory at the RBC Heritage the following week and comes to Tulsa off of a second-place finish at the Byron Nelson.
Continued improvement on his approach game is the reason behind Spieth's recent play - he now ranks inside the top 35 in strokes gained. A strong week with the putter should place him right in the mix for the trophy Sunday.
If Spieth emerges victorious, he'd become just the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam - joining Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen, and Gary Player.
Rory to build off Masters finish
He didn't win that elusive green jacket in April, but Rory McIlroy comes to Southern Hills full of confidence after his absurd Sunday finish at Augusta.
McIlroy made a late charge at Scottie Scheffler's lead with a sizzling 8-under 64 capped by one of the most outrageous bunker hole-outs we've seen at the Masters. He's only played once since then, but a top-five finish at the Wells Fargo showed he's still in fine form.
The 33-year-old's majors drought is well-documented. He hasn't claimed any of the four events since winning his fourth in 2014, even though he's had plenty of success during that eight-year break, including a Players Championship.
His opening-round scoring is the main reason for that.
If he can avoid disaster in Round 1, expect McIlroy to make his presence felt on the weekend in his quest for his fifth career major.
Scheffler tries to continue insane run
Scheffler entered February without a PGA TOUR win on his resume and sat 14th in the Official World Golf Rankings. Following one of the most dominant stretches of play in recent memory, he entered May with four PGA TOUR victories and a firm grip on the No. 1 spot in the OWGR.
The Texan delivered four victories in a six-event stretch, including a runaway win for his first major title at Augusta.
Now he comes to the PGA Championship looking for back-to-back majors at a course he's shown great affection for.
"Obviously Augusta is incredible, but I have always been a huge fan of Southern Hills in Tulsa," Scheffler told Eli Jordan of Avid Golfer last August. "I haven't had a chance to play it since the renovation yet, but I really liked it before."
Scheffler is the betting favorite and will look to join exclusive company as a back-to-back major winner. Only 13 players in the history of the men's game have won consecutive major titles in the same season.
Can a top player get elusive 1st major?
Half of the players in the top 20 of the OWGR come to Southern Hills in search of the first major title of their career. No. 4 Cameron Smith, No. 5 Patrick Cantlay, and No. 6 Viktor Hovland headline that list.
Smith showed his mettle with a win at the Players Championship in March, but both Cantlay and Hovland need a strong showing to solidify their resumes in the golfing world. Cantlay has just two top-10 finishes in 20 starts at major championships, while Hovland has yet to post a top-10 showing in his nine starts.
Excluding Collin Morikawa's victory at last year's Open Championship and Brooks Koepka's triumph at the 2017 U.S. Open, 12 of the last 15 major champions have been first-time winners. A number of top players will be hoping that trend continues this week at Southern Hills.
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