2021 PGA Championship: Seven compelling storylines

If we’re being trustworthy, it has been a comparatively quiet PGA Tour season to this point.

Sure, there have been some key moments: Jordan Spieth and Rory McIlroy ending respective winless streaks (Spieth capturing the Valero Texas Open and McIlroy successful the Wells Fargo two weeks in the past), have been highlights. So, too, have been Bryson DeChambeau flexing his muscle tissue to win at Bay Hill and Justin Thomas successful the Players Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama’s Masters victory had historic relevance, as he turned the primary male participant from Japan to win a significant championship. Some under-the-radar gamers, like Stewart Cink with two wins, and Harris English and Matt Jones, each of whom ended respective seven-year winless droughts, additionally have been noteworthy.

But the truth is that this: No participant has really seized 2021 by the throat. Perhaps that may start to vary at this week’s PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course in South Carolina, the positioning of the 2012 PGA.

Here’s a take a look at a few of the key storylines getting into the second main championship of 2021:

McIlroy’s protection

McIlroy is the defending champion at Kiawah Island, having gained the 2012 PGA there by a report eight photographs. He, too, is 2 weeks eliminated from his win at the Wells Fargo Championship, which ended a winless streak that stretched for some 18 months.

“I hadn’t sniffed a weekend of a golf event for a few months,’’ McIlroy mentioned. “I assume it rotated shortly. But there’s a whole lot of work in between to get to that time.’’

Spieth Slam

This shall be Spieth’s fifth try at finishing the uncommon profession Grand Slam, a feat simply 5 gamers have achieved.

“The first time was really the only time where it may have weighed on me, only given it was coming right off a major win [the ’17 British Open was his third leg],’’ Spieth said. “And then I was playing really well, so I felt in form. And then the years after, I just didn’t really feel in great form in PGAs. Every year I go into that tournament, it’s the one that if I could pick one more to win, I would pick that one.”

Spieth’s type has been fabulous in 2021, with a handful of top-five finishes, together with the win at Valero and a tie for third on the Masters. He, too, had himself in rivalry deep into the Byron Nelson Invitational.

Look out for No. 1

Dustin Johnson stays ranked No. 1 on the planet, however does it actually really feel as if he’s the perfect proper now, contemplating he has performed simply twice since lacking the reduce in his protection on the Masters in April? Johnson pulled out of this previous week’s Byron Nelson citing knee soreness.

Jordan Spieth and Byrson DeChambeau
Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau
Getty Images (2)

Is Brooks again?

Brooks Koepka, who reigned as the highest participant on the planet earlier than D.J. took over, has been slowed by accidents for a lot of the previous 12 months. Koepka returned to play the Masters simply weeks after present process knee surgical procedure and missed the reduce. He hadn’t performed till the Byron Nelson this week and he missed the reduce there, too.

“[I’m] nonetheless not 100%,’’ Koepka mentioned throughout the week. “[It’ll] nonetheless be some time earlier than I’m 100%. It’s dramatically higher than it was at Augusta. I really feel just like the power is getting there. The mobility is getting there. I’m forward of schedule.’’

Defending champ

We haven’t heard a lot these days from Collin Morikawa, who gained the PGA Championship final August at Harding Park in San Francisco — the place his signature successful shot was his tee shot to seven toes for eagle on the par-4 sixteenth within the closing spherical. Morikawa has 4 top-10 finishes since his PGA victory, however a type of was a WGC victory.

The Bryson Show

DeChambeau, the winner of the 2020 U.S. Open and the 2021 Arnold Palmer Invitational, mentioned earlier than lacking the reduce eventually week’s Byron Nelson that he’s “ramping up’’ for the PGA.

“Kiawah, I’ve by no means performed it, however I’ve seen it on TV, clearly, watching Rory do what he did [in 2012],’’ he mentioned. “I believe it’s one of many longest championships we’ve ever performed [it is]. And I’m excited for that, as a result of any time it’s a super-long golf course I believe it matches into my hand fairly properly.’’

The venue

The Ocean Course, considered one of Pete Dye’s most well-known designs, stretches out to greater than 7,800 yards from the again tees. That mixed with the prevailing winds off the Atlantic Ocean could make the course diabolical.

The Ocean Course is greatest remembered for being the positioning of the 1991 Ryder Cup, which was dubbed the “War by the Shore” and was gained by the United States.

“I want to punish these pros if they don’t hit the proper shots,” Dye famously mentioned when the Ocean Course was unveiled to the world that week.

More not too long ago, the PGA of America carried out the 2007 Senior PGA Championship, gained by Denis Watson, and the 2012 PGA Championship, gained by McIlroy, on the Ocean Course.

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