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QUICK TAKE: Groups to Watch at the PGA Championship

PGA Championship
Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler will try to keep their positive vibes going at Quail Hollow when grouped together for the first two rounds of the PGA Championship. (Photo Credit: Lee Smith, Reuters)

As we approach the year’s final major, let’s take a look into some of the featured groups set to tee it up at Quail Hollow for the 99th PGA Championship:

Rory McIlroy-Rickie Fowler-Jon Rahm

McIlroy and Fowler earned their first PGA Tour victories at Quail Hollow and have impressive track records on the George Cobb design. McIlroy, twice a winner of the annual Wells Fargo event played on the course, comes in riding a tie for fourth at the Open Championship and a tie for fifth in Akron at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. Fowler arrives in similar fine form with four top-10s in his past six starts. As for their groupmate, Rahm – ranked first on the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee – figures to be a great fit on a long and potentially soft layout.

READ: PGA Championship Likely Moving to May

Jordan Spieth-Sergio García-Brooks Koepka

Heading off early on Thursday, the three major champions of 2017 are looking for some chocolate syrup on their sundaes. Spieth enters with an opportunity to be the youngest to complete a career grand slam, but he will have to do so with only one past start at Quail Hollow (T32 in 2013) and the swelling attention his Open Championship win has given him. García has been steady but not particularly inspiring since his breakthrough Masters victory as he plays his first major since getting hitched two weeks ago. Koepka has quietly been a major monster throughout his career and is liable to get into contention once again given his record. Koepka has finished 15th or better in 8 of his past 11 majors, and the outliers were 18th, 21st and 33rd.

Jason Day-Dustin Johnson-Henrik Stenson

This threesome of recent major champions has a lot of questions to answer. Day won the PGA Championship in 2015 and fell one stroke short of Jimmy Walker in last year’s edition but has been a nonfactor in 2017 majors. Despite solid short-game numbers, Day is ranked an abysmal 179th in driving accuracy and 154th in strokes gained approaching the green. Johnson has been in better form but has yet to win since missing The Masters with a freak injury. A T8 at the Canadian Open and a closing 66 in Akron for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational are good signs heading into the week. Stenson has struggled with five missed cuts since the middle of March but put together a tie for 11th at the Open Championship and two solid weekend rounds in Ohio to gain some momentum heading into Charlotte.

READ: Players Allowed to Wear Shorts for PGA Championship Practice Rounds

Hideki Matsuyama-Ernie Els-Ian Poulter

Has any player been more consistent than Matsuyama over the past year? He has six worldwide wins in his past 20 starts and is ranked No. 1 in both the FedEx Cup and Presidents Cup standings. He continues Japan’s search for its first major title. Els, playing in his 100th career major, has no top-30 finishes this year on the PGA Tour and appears to be slowing down. Poulter, six years younger than Els and just entering his early 40s, has been on the comeback trail this year, highlighted by a tie for second at the Players Championship and a solo third at the Canadian Open.

Jimmy Walker-Phil Mickelson-Jason Dufner

While Walker has yet to be in contention since his victory at the PGA last year, it’s hard to blame him as he has dealt with Lyme disease. He led through 36 holes last week in Akron and will be eager to defend his title this week. Mickelson loves Quail Hollow (three top-4s in his past four starts) but has a complicated history with the closing two holes, which have sunk his chances on several occasions. He has made 17 of 18 cuts this season, with his one miss being the Open Championship. Dufner, the third PGA Champion of this threesome, won the Memorial in June and finished tied for 14th at the Open Championship. He sits 22nd in the FedEx Cup standings, a continuation of the resurgence he showed last year.

2017 PGA Championship tee times, pairings for Thursday

Tee No. 1

7:20 a.m. – Grayson Murray, Rich Berberian Jr., Peter Uihlein

7:30 – Adam Rainaud, Tony Finau, Fabrizio Zanotti

7:40 – Younghan Song, Dave McNabb, Charles Howell III

7:50 – Sung Kang, Wesley Bryan, Dylan Frittelli

8 – William McGirt, Francesco Molinari, Jim Herman

8:10 – Gary Woodland, Andy Sullivan, Kyle Stanley

8:20 – Rich Beem, Vijay Singh, John Daly

8:30 – Louis Oosthuizen, Danny Willett, J.B. Holmes

8:40 – Thomas Pieters, Xander Schauffele, Rod Pampling

8:50 – Thorbjørn Olesen, Brendan Steele, Hudson Swafford

9 – Cameron Smith, Bernd Wiesberger, Brandon Stone

9:10 – K.T. Kim, Greg Gregory, James Hahn

9:20 – Richard Sterne, Ryan Vermeer, Barracuda Winner

12:35 p.m. – Lucas Glover, Matt Dobyns, Hideto Tanihara

12:45 – Mike Small, Jason Kokrak, Satoshi Kodaira

12:55 – Thomas Bjørn, Branden Grace, Pat Perez

1:05 – Adam Scott, Luke Donald, Webb Simpson

1:15 – Billy Horschel, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Si Woo Kim

1:25 – Jimmy Walker, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner

1:35 – Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler

1:45 – Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Brandt Snedeker

1:55 – Daniel Berger, Jim Furyk, Kevin Kisner

2:05 – Ross Fisher, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Ryan Moore

2:15 – Jhonattan Vegas, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Smith

2:25 – Alex Beach, Sean O’Hair, Kevin Na

2:35 – Chris Moody, Luke List, Jamie Lovemark


Tee No. 10

7:25 a.m. – Shane Lowry, Stuart Deane, Pablo Larrazábal

7:35 – Alex Norén, Scott Herbert, Russell Knox

7:45 – Hideki Matsuyama, Ernie Els, Ian Poulter

7:55 – Daniel Summerhays, Robert Streb, Chris Wood

8:05 – Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed

8:15 – Bubba Watson, Charl Schwartzel, Paul Casey

8:25 – Sergio García, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth

8:35 – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson

8:45 – Pádraig Harrington, Keegan Bradley, Davis Love III

8:55 – Zach Johnson, Lee Westwood, Charley Hoffman

9:05 – David Lingmerth, Scott Brown, Nicolas Colsaerts

9:15 – Scott Hend, Kenny Pigman, Andrew Johnston

9:25 – Kelly Kraft, Brian Smock, Patrick Rodgers

12:30 p.m. – David Muttitt, Bud Cauley, Graham DeLaet

12:40 – Rod Perry, Yuta Ikeda, Emiliano Grillo

12:50 – Joost Luiten, Paul Claxton, Russell Henley

1 – Patrick Cantlay, Thongchai Jaidee, Soren Kjeldsen

1:10 – Omar Uresti, Y.E. Yang, Shaun Micheel

1:20 – Danny Lee, Marc Leishman, Anirban Lahiri

1:30 – Byeong Hun An, Kevin Chappell, Mackenzie Hughes

1:40 – Jonas Blixt, Steve Stricker, Brian Harman

1:50 – D.A. Points, Tyrrell Hatton, Adam Hadwin

2 – Martin Laird, Bill Haas, Graeme McDowell

2:10 – Jeunghun Wang, Alexander Levy, Jamie Broce

2:20 – JJ Wood, Ryan Fox, Haotong Li

2:30 – Jaysen Hansen, Cody Gribble, Chez Reavie


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