Sat. Jun 15th, 2024

From Scottie Scheffler to everyone else: Breaking down the PGA Championship field

By admin May23,2024

The strongest field in men’s professional golf — including each of the top 100 players in the Official World Golf Ranking — heads to Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, this week for the PGA Championship, the season’s second major.

There will be plenty of storylines, including the return of world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler, who took a couple of weeks off before the birth of his first child, and defending champion Brooks Koepka, who has been competing in the LIV Golf League.

Scheffler, Koepka and world No. 2 golfer Rory McIlroy each won in their last starts, and they’ll be among the favorites to lift the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. McIlroy, who last won a major championship at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla, picked up his 26th PGA Tour victory at the Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Here’s a look at the 156 golfers in the field, from the contenders to the dark horses at Valhalla.

Scottie Scheffler hasn’t played competitively in a few weeks, but he’s still the golfer everyone will be chasing at the PGA Championship. In the past 70 years, only five golfers have won the first two majors of the season: Ben Hogan (1953), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Tiger Woods (2002) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

The world No. 1 golfer won in four of his past five starts (he tied for second in the other one) but hasn’t played a competitive round since April 21 while awaiting the birth of his first child. Scheffler tied for second at the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York, two strokes behind Brooks Koepka. Will the long layoff cool him off, or will it be more of the same from the ball-striking machine?

Here are the legitimate contenders to win the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. They have the games, guts and nerves to handle four pressure-packed rounds.

A disappointing finish at the Masters — he tied for 45th at 9 over, 20 strokes behind Scheffler — only seemed to fuel Big Game Brooks. He picked up his fourth LIV Golf League win in Singapore on May 5. Koepka has a chance to win back-to-back PGA Championship titles for the second time, and capturing a fourth Wanamaker Trophy would tie him with Tiger Woods for third most. Over the past six PGA Championships, Koepka is 32 under; the next-best total is Justin Rose at 13 under, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Ludvig Åberg

Already a world-class ball striker, Aberg was tied for the lead going into the back nine of the Masters — his first start in a major championship. The former Texas Tech star was forced to pull out of last week’s Wells Fargo Championship because of a knee injury.

Wyndham Clark

The reigning U.S. Open winner typically shows up big in big events and has collected three PGA Tour victories since May 2023. He ranks in the top 10 on tour in driving distance and strokes gained: putting, which is a potent combination. His length off the tee will be valuable at Valhalla.

Xander Schauffele

We’ll say it again: Schauffele is going to win a major championship at some point. He’s playing some of the best golf of his career and is always in the hunt at majors. Schauffele has finished in the top 20 in each of the past eight majors, including a solo eighth at the Masters.

Collin Morikawa

The 2020 PGA Championship winner has found his form again after a long slump, tying for third at the Masters, his sixth top-five finish in 17 starts in majors. Morikawa went into last week ranked 140th in strokes gained: putting and 96th in approach, but he somehow manages to play his way into contention in majors.

Rory McIlroy

After claiming his second PGA Championship at Valhalla in August 2014, Rory couldn’t have imagined he wouldn’t win another one. But here we are more than nine years later, with McIlroy still trying to end a nearly 10-year major drought. It’s going to end at some point.

Bryson DeChambeau

A tie for fourth at Oak Hill put the golf world on notice that DeChambeau’s game was coming back around. He had a share of the 36-hole lead at Augusta National before tying for sixth. He has had a few more weeks to work with his 3D-printed clubs, too.

Jon Rahm

Was Rahm’s poor performance at the Masters — a tie for 45th — an aberration or a sign he’s still adjusting to the LIV Golf League’s abbreviated schedule? The Spanish golfer will be motivated to prove he’s still one of the best players in the world. He has made the cut in each of the past 18 majors, the longest such current streak.

Cameron Young

After a so-so sophomore campaign on the PGA Tour, Young is rounding into form again. He finished in the top 10 in five of his past eight starts in majors, including a tie for ninth at Augusta National.

Max Homa

Homa will openly admit that he wasn’t very good in majors in his first four full seasons on tour. But he seemed to get over that mental hurdle in his past two, tying for 10th at The Open in July and for third at the Masters.

Tommy Fleetwood

Fleetwood might be still searching for his first U.S. victory, but he has been remarkably good in the majors the past two-plus seasons. He finished in the top 10 in five of his past eight starts, including a tie for third at the Masters.

Will Zalatoris

Zalatoris’ return from back surgery has been promising, as he picked up three top-10s in his first 10 starts this season. He withdrew from the CJ Cup Byron Nelson in Texas because of a flare-up of back pain. Two years ago, he lost to Justin Thomas in a playoff at the 2022 PGA Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Cameron Smith

Smith’s Ripper GC team is tearing up the LIV Golf League with back-to-back victories, and he seems to be rounding into form with a tie for second in individual play in Singapore. One of the world’s best putters, Smith should be a contender in another major.

Joaquín Niemann

The LIV Golf League captain received a special invitation to the Masters and tied for 22nd at 4 over. Niemann also received a special invitation from the PGA of America. He has won twice in the LIV Golf League this season.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Outside of finishing solo fifth at The Players, it has been a relatively quiet season so far for the 2022 U.S. Open winner. An Englishman hasn’t won the PGA Championship since Jim Barnes in 1919.

Brian Harman

The reigning Open Championship winner’s track record at the PGA Championship hasn’t been stellar, with one top-25 finish in nine starts. If Harman’s putter gets hot, however, he might be a factor.

Patrick Cantlay

The golfer who reportedly controls the PGA Tour’s policy board will be looking for his second top-five finish in his 29th start in a major. Cantlay is too talented not to perform better in the big four.

Jason Day

After a so-so stretch, Day’s game had life at last week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. The fashion experts on social media are anxiously awaiting his lineup for Valhalla.

Viktor Hovland

Hovland, 26, seemed ready to explode after he won three times last year and captured the Tour Championship. He didn’t have a top-10 finish in his first six starts and ranked outside the top 100 in strokes gained: total.

Justin Thomas

JT couldn’t dream of a better storyline than winning a third Wanamaker Trophy in his hometown of Louisville. Thomas believes he’s close to winning again — and his five top-15 finishes in his first nine starts suggest he might be.

Tier III: If everything goes right

Tyrrell Hatton is coming off a top-10 finish at the Masters. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Here are the sleeper candidates to win the PGA Championship. This tier includes a few previous major champions and a handful of players who have made comebacks this season.

Tyrrell Hatton

The Englishman hadn’t had a top-10 finish at a major in four years before tying for ninth at the Masters. He finished in the top 15 in each of the past two PGA Championships, including a tie for 15th at Oak Hill.

Sahith Theegala

If Theegala tightens up his work around the greens, he could be a sleeper candidate to lift the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. The rest of his game is good enough to do it.

Talor Gooch

A three-time winner in the LIV Golf League and the circuit’s reigning individual champion, Gooch received a special invitation from the PGA of America. Gooch will have to win at Valhalla to play in next month’s U.S. Open and The Open in July because he won’t try to get in either through open qualifying.

Jordan Spieth

Spieth might not be disclosing everything about his nagging wrist injury, which he aggravated before last year’s PGA Championship. He had missed the cut in four of his past six starts heading into the Wells Fargo Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama

The 2021 Masters champion hasn’t fared as well at the PGA Championship — he finished outside the top 15 in each of his past six starts. He picked up his ninth tour victory at the Genesis Invitational in February, even though back and neck injuries have continued to bother him at times. He withdrew from the Wells Fargo Championship because of a back injury.

Dustin Johnson

It’s difficult to gauge DJ’s give-a-you-know-what meter these days. In his past five starts in majors, he missed the cut twice, tied for 48th, tied for 55th and tied for 10th at the 2023 U.S. Open. He’s still capable of striping the ball as well as anyone.

Justin Rose

Rose has the longest current streak of consecutive top-15s at the PGA Championship with four. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only player with five straight after turning 40 is Sam Snead (1956 to 1960).

Nicolai Hojgaard

The Danish golfer is considered one of the future cornerstones of the European Ryder Cup team. His tie for 16th in his Masters debut showed why.

Sepp Straka

Straka seems to be on the verge of winning something big after posting a top-16 finish or better in three of his past four starts in majors. He tied for seventh at Oak Hill last year. His form has been good the past two months, too.

Tom Kim

We’re guessing the good-natured Kim won’t go searching for wayward shots in muddy hazards at Valhalla this year. The youngest golfer to claim three wins on tour since Tiger Woods, Kim’s results have been so-so this season.

Chris Kirk

Kirk has picked up two victories since returning to the PGA Tour from a mental health break. He tied for fifth at the 2022 PGA Championship, his best finish in a major.

Tony Finau

Finau was a top-10 machine in majors with nine in 13 starts from 2018 to 2021. He hasn’t finished in the top 25 in each of his nine starts the past two-plus seasons.

Shane Lowry

Lowry teamed up with McIlroy to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, his first victory on the PGA Tour in more than four years. Will it be the spark both of them needed?

Adam Scott

Scott tied for eighth at the WM Phoenix Open and for 22nd at the Masters, proving he still has something in the tank. He tied for 15th at the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla.

Sam Burns

Burns missed the cut in three of his past four starts in majors. He’s too good not to break through at some point. His form hasn’t been great lately.

Min Woo Lee

The surging 25-year-old tied for 18th in the 2023 PGA Championship, then for fifth at the U.S. Open in June. The Chef might be cooking up something special for Valhalla.

Harris English

English’s best work in the majors has come in the U.S. Open (three top-10s). His game has been trending in the right direction.

Patrick Reed

Reed’s performance in the LIV Golf League hasn’t been great so far this season with just one top-10 in seven starts. He tied for 12th at the Masters.

Jake Knapp

The PGA Tour rookie made the cut in his Masters debut and tied for 55th. He’s a believer in a bamboo parable about a tree laying dormant for years and then growing 30 feet in a few weeks. That sounds a lot like the former UCLA golfer’s career.

Corey Conners

One of the best iron players in the world, Conners tied for 12th at Oak Hill last year, his best finish in five starts at the PGA Championship.

Byeong Hun An

The South Korean golfer has played very well this season with eight top-25s in 13 starts. He’s still looking for his first top-10 in a major, although he did tie for 16th at the Masters.

Tom Hoge

Hoge went into last week ranked second on tour (behind only Scheffler) in strokes gained: approach (1.029). He tied for ninth at the 2022 PGA Championship in Tulsa.

Keegan Bradley

The 2011 PGA Championship winner — one of only six golfers to win in his major debut — has struggled to find his form over the past two months.

Russell Henley

Henley has quietly climbed into the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking. He has one top-10 in 37 starts in majors.

Taylor Pendrith

Pendrith, from Canada, has positioned himself for a spot on the International team at the Presidents Cup in Montreal with a victory at the CJ Cup Byron Nelson and a good showing at Quail Hollow.

Dean Burmester

A four-time winner on the DP World Tour, Burmester was a surprising victor at LIV Golf’s tournament in Miami on April 7.

Matthieu Pavon

The golfer from France tied for 12th at the Masters — his best finish in a major. He went into last week ranked in the top 20 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained: total, approach and putting.

Lucas Glover

It has been quite a month for Glover, who received the Order of the Palmetto, South Carolina’s highest civilian honor, at the RBC Heritage. He’ll be inducted into the state’s athletics hall of fame on May 20.

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Sungjae Im

The South Korean golfer hasn’t fared especially well at the PGA Championship, missing the cut in three of his past four starts.

Kurt Kitayama

Kitayama’s putting has held him back this season — he was 129th in strokes gained: putting (-.213) heading into Quail Hollow Club last week. He tied for fourth at last year’s PGA Championship at 3 under.

Nick Taylor

Taylor has won twice on the PGA Tour since June 2023. He’ll look to end a string of six straight missed cuts in majors.

Cam Davis

The Australian golfer hasn’t won on tour since July 2021, but he seems to turn things up at majors. He tied for fourth at Oak Hill last year and for 12th at the Masters.

Eric Cole

The longtime mini-tour star has scuffled with his game lately. He tied for 15th in his PGA Championship debut at Oak Hill and is capable of putting things together quickly.

Rickie Fowler

After last season’s resurgence, Fowler is still searching for his first top-10 finish in 2024. At least he’ll have fond memories of Valhalla — he tied for third at the 2014 PGA Championship, 2 strokes behind McIlroy.

Billy Horschel

It’s good to see Horschel playing well again — he won the Corales Puntacana Championship on April 21 after struggling with his game for a while.

Adam Hadwin

The Canadian golfer has cracked the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking with five top-25 finishes in 12 starts this season.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout

The South African golfer was solo second at the American Express in January. He missed the cut in three of his past four PGA Championship starts before showing life at Quail Hollow.

Keith Mitchell

The former University of Georgia golfer has made the cut in three straight PGA Championship starts.

Taylor Moore

Moore, a two-time state champion in Oklahoma, tied for 20th at the Masters, his best finish in a major.

Jordan Smith

A two-time winner on the DP World Tour, the English golfer tied for 20th at the 2023 U.S. Open.

Tier IV: Hey, miracles happen

Victor Perez had a great finish in last year’s PGA Championship. Raj Mehta/Getty Images

They are the long shots. Everything would have to fall perfectly in place over 72 holes in four days for someone from this tier to win. There have been more than a few underdogs who have hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy.

Victor Perez

The well-traveled Perez — who was born in France, studied at the University of New Mexico and now lives in Scotland — tied for 12th at Oak Hill, his best finish in a major.

Akshay Bhatia

The 22-year-old has won twice on tour since July 2023. He tied for 35th at the Masters, his first start in a major.

Thomas Detry

Nick Dunlap

After winning the American Express as an amateur on Jan. 21, Dunlap has just one top-25 finish in nine starts as a pro.

Austin Eckroat

Ryan Fox

Emiliano Grillo

Lucas Herbert

Charley Hoffman

Hoffman, who recently made his 500th start on the PGA Tour, last played in the PGA Championship in 2021, when he tied for 17th.

Beau Hossler

Mark Hubbard

Stephan Jaeger

Si Woo Kim

K.H. Lee

Luke List

Robert MacIntyre

What about Bob? The DP World Tour regular has two top-10s at The Open but hasn’t done much in a U.S. major since tying for 12th at the 2021 Masters.

Denny McCarthy

Adrian Meronk

Mackenzie Hughes

Phil Mickelson

The LIV Golf League captain has just one top-20 finish in six starts on that circuit this season. At least he’ll have plenty of course knowledge at Valhalla — he’s playing it for the fourth time in a PGA Championship. Mickelson tied for ninth in 2000 and was second in 2014.

Francesco Molinari

Taylor Montgomery

Grayson Murray

Alex Noren

Thorbjorn Olesen

Adrian Otaegui

JT Poston

Poston, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour, has never finished better than 30th in a major. He has piled up four top-10s on tour this season.

David Puig

Patrick Rodgers

Adam Schenk

Brendon Todd

Erik van Rooyen

Camilo Villegas

The Colombian-born golfer tied for 35th at the Masters, his first made cut in a major since 2015.

Matt Wallace

Gary Woodland

Tiger Woods

Woods won the 2000 PGA Championship at Valhalla as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world. McIlroy accomplished the feat in 2014. According to Elias Sports Bureau, other than Augusta National, no other golf course in the world had two major champions while they were ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Scheffler can do it this week, too.

Tier V: Happy to make the cut

Luke Donald last made a PGA Championship cut in 2015. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

They aren’t expected to be among the contenders unless something truly magical happens, like it did for Shaun Micheel more than two decades ago.

Alexander Björk

Chris Gotterup

S.H. Kim

Zac Blair

Luke Donald

The European Ryder Cup captain last made the cut in a PGA Championship when he tied for 43rd in 2015.

Brice Garnett

Doug Ghim

Ben Griffin

Given the interest rates, Griffin is probably happy he’s no longer working as a mortgage loan officer. It’s his PGA Championship debut.

Ryo Hisatsune

Lee Hodges

Rasmus Hojgaard

The band is back together! The Hojgaard twins will compete against each other this week at Valhalla. Rasmus, who plays on the DP World Tour, withdrew from his last start at the Hero Indian Open.

Takumi Kanaya

Kazuma Kobori

Kobori, born in Japan and raised in New Zealand, won three times in a month on the PGA Tour of Australasia earlier this year.

Ben Kohles

Thriston Lawrence

Peter Malnati

Maverick McNealy

McNealy has slipped to No. 102 in the world. With a management science and engineering degree from Stanford, he’s one of the sharpest players in the field.

Keita Nakajima

A five-time winner on the Japan Tour and DP World Tour, Nakajima was the No. 1-ranked amateur in the world for 87 consecutive weeks.

Vincent Norman

Andy Ogletree

Ogletree, who reclaimed a spot in the LIV Golf League by winning the International Series Order of Merit for 2023, is competing in his first major as a professional.

Andrew Putnam

Aaron Rai

Sebastian Söderberg

Alex Smalley

Adam Svensson

Jesper Svensson

Alejandro Tosti

Tosti grew up in Argentina playing golf with a charcoal stick and pingpong ball. The former University of Florida star is known for his emotion on the course.

Sami Valimaki

Ryan van Velzen

Tim Widing

Tier VI: Past champions

John Daly remains a colorful presence on the course. Alex Slitz/Getty Images

These are past PGA Championship winners who aren’t included in the tiers above.

Rich Beem

The 2002 PGA Championship winner, now 53, last made the cut when he tied for 80th in 2019.

John Daly

Daly, who famously won a Wanamaker Trophy as the ninth alternate in 1991, is still gripping and ripping it on PGA Tour Champions. He didn’t finish better than 65th in his first five starts.

Jason Dufner

Padraig Harrington

The 2008 PGA Championship winner’s best work this season might have been the lesson he gave Georgia football coach Kirby Smart during the pro-am at last week’s PGA Tour Champions stop in Birmingham, Alabama.

Martin Kaymer

Kaymer, whose two major championship victories include the 2010 PGA Championship, has struggled in the LIV Golf League. He has just one top-15 finish and is 42nd in points.

Shaun Micheel

Jimmy Walker

Y.E. Yang

Tier VII: The club professionals

Could we see another club pro make a run like Michael Block pulled off last year? Maddie Meyer/PGA of America via Getty Images

These are the top 20 finishers from the PGA Professional Championship, which took place at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco in Texas on April 28-May 1, and returning pro Michael Block.

Josh Bevell

The 38-year-old from Nashville played one season of basketball at Division II Christian Brothers University before walking on the golf team at Mississippi State.

Michael Block

Will there be another Block party at Valhalla? The California club pro took the golf world by storm when he tied for 15th at Oak Hill last year. He had a final-round ace on the par-3 15th hole. No club professional has made the cut in back-to-back PGA Championships since Tom Wargo in 1992-93, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Evan Bowser

Preston Cole

An assistant pro at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, Cole won the 2023 Assistant PGA Professional Championship with a walk-off eagle on the 18th hole.

Tyler Collet

Matt Dobyns

Dobyns, making his sixth start in the PGA Championship, plays right-handed but putts left-handed.

Larkin Gross

Jared Jones

Jeff Kellen

Brad Marek

Marek, who coaches junior golfers in California, made the cut and finished 78th at the 2021 PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, South Carolina.

Kyle Mendoza

Jesse Mueller

Zac Oakley

Tracy Phillips

Phillips, the oldest player in the field at 61, was Golf Digest’s No. 1-ranked junior golfer in 1979 and won his first college tournament at Oklahoma State two years later.

Ben Polland

Polland, who played golf at Campbell, won the 2024 PGA Professional Championship by three strokes to earn his fourth trip to the major.

Braden Shattuck

Shattuck, the director of golf at Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pennsylvania, had to rebuild his swing from scratch after suffering multiple herniated discs in his back in a car wreck in 2019.

John Somers

Josh Speight

Andy Svoboda

Jeremy Wells

Wyatt Worthington II

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