The final major of the year is upon us with the 100th PGA Championship on tap from Bellerive Country Club in suburban St. Louis. Here are some of the top groups to watch come Thursday.
Tiger Woods – Rory McIlroy – Justin Thomas
This is probably the biggest group of the first two rounds. Thomas and McIlroy just played together in the final pairing at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational where Thomas earned his ninth PGA Tour title. He is hoping for a successful defense of his PGA crown. McIlroy won earlier this year at Bay Hill and has shown signs of strong play recently, including a close call at the Open Championship where he tied for second. Woods needs a win or a solo second to potentially lock up a Ryder Cup spot, but he will need to drive the ball consistently to have a legitimate chance of contending.
Jordan Spieth – Justin Rose – Jon Rahm
Another star-studded group is highlighted by Spieth attempting to complete the career grand slam. It will require him shaking off a Sunday 76 at Carnoustie where he had a golden opportunity to defend his title. Rose, who is always a threat to win big events, tied for second at the Open Championship and won earlier this year at the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club. Rahm has won twice this year with victories at the Open de Espana and CareerBuilder Challenge, although majors haven’t been friendly to him thus far as Rahm –he has just one top-20 finish in his career.
Patrick Reed – Brooks Koepka – Francesco Molinari
This is a strong threesome comprising the year’s first three major winners. Molinari has a serious case at player of the year honors if he were to play well again this week. Koepka, fresh off a top-5 finish in Akron, could capture his third major with a victory here. Reed picked up a top-5 in the U.S. Open after winning the Masters and also had a tie for second last year in the PGA Championship. You will definitely be seeing all three players in the Ryder Cup this fall.
Phil Mickelson – Jason Day – Keegan Bradley
All three are former PGA Championship winners with something to prove this week. Mickelson won in Mexico earlier this year but has stalled recently. Day has already won twice this year and nearly picked up another last week in Akron but hasn’t seriously contended for a major since the 2016 PGA when Jimmy Walker won at Baltusrol. Bradley has been incredibly quiet and will love the opportunity to play in this marquee group. His last top-10 in a major came back in the 2014 U.S. Open.