One cannot be in any way certain as to the condition of Rory McIlroy despite confirming that he will feature, so here are a look at five other players in an extremely open field who should be considered contenders this week.
Jason Day has already finished in the top ten at two of this year’s majors, (T9 US Open; T4 The Open Championship) and will be gunning to make strides on the leader board in Wisconsin. The world number four is often regarded as the best golfer on tour yet to win a major, finishing in the top five at six majors events, and having finished second on three occasions (Masters 2011, US Open 2011 and 2013).
The scene could be set at Kohler for the third-ranked player in driving distance and second in putting average to go one step further and claim a coveted first major championship. The 27-year-old came up just short at The Open Championship at St Andrew’s, having entered the final round as one of the 54-hole co-leaders. The Australian shot a bogey free final round 70 to finish at 14-under-par and one stroke outside of the playoff.
Day has won twice on tour this season, his most recent victory being at the Canadian Open. The Ohio resident illustrates that he has the form and necessary attributes to go far into Sunday in Wisconsin.
Unlike his countryman Day, Adam Scott has tasted major championship victory previously, having clinched a green jacket at Augusta in 2013. The 35 year-old boasts fifteen top 10 finishes in majors, among them his epic collapse in the 2012 Open Championship.
The former world number one has played some fine golf this year, finishing T4 and T10 at the US Open and The Open Championship respectively. His move to a conventional short putter has restricted him from finishing more favourably in the leader board, most notably at The Open Championship, but nonetheless his confidence appears sky-high and his driving and approach play appear to be in full flow.
If the world number eleven can keep it together on the greens at Whistling Straits, he is certain to be in contention.
Where to start with the world number seven?
The big hitter from South Carolina will tee off on Thursday morning attempting to exorcise his personal demons of Whistling Straits, where he came cruelly close to a first major victory.
Here, in 2010, Johnson held a one-stroke lead while teeing off at his weekend’s 71st hole. He bogeyed, resulting in the then 26 year-old making for the club house readying himself for a play-off. After further review, it was adjudicated that Johnson had grounded a club in a bunker, and was hit with a two-stroke penalty, to plummet him to tie for fifth overall.
Sadly, that is not the only capitulation that Dustin has experienced in his majors career. Prior to the mishap at Whistling Straits, Johnson blew a three stroke lead at the US Open by shooting a final round 82.
In 2012, a two-iron on the par-5 14th at St. George’s denied him a shot at Open Championship victory. Earlier this summer, he three putted hole number 18 to hand Jordan Spieth a one stroke victory in the US Open, and at St. Andrew’s, Johnson led the field at the halfway stage, before shooting a six-over on Saturday and Sunday.
The ability to secure victory from winning positions is certainly what the 31 year-old has been lacking thus far. The world number seven leads the rankings in driving distance, a key attribute at Whistling Straits. In the event that Dustin Johnson can put his previous shortcomings behind him, 2015 at Kohler represents an opportune time for Johnson to finally break his master’s duck.
Spieth descends upon Lake Michigan this week as the planet’s form golfer and the bookmaker’s favourite to clinch victory in America’s Dairyland. Two major victories and a T4 finish at The Open Championships proves that the Texan has the pedigree to be considered amongst the forerunners at each event.
Having just come short at St. Andrew’s in his attempts to claim an illustrious Grand Slam, the 22 year-old will be striving to secure three majors in a year, a feat not achieved since Tiger Woods in 2000.
The Texan and number two in the world is in excellent form, having finished in the top ten of thirteen of the last twenty events he has participated in. The current FedExCup points leader possesses a number of attributes critical for success at Whistling Straits, such as accuracy from the tee and approach, in addition to a hot putter. However, if Spieth possessed a longer drive, he would certainly deservedly start as favourite in Kohler to lift the Wanamaker Trophy aloft on Sunday evening. His 75th-place tour rank in driving distance certainly leaves open the door to the field.
Rickie Fowler travels to Wisconsin having shared tenth with Spieth at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational, and finished second at the Quicken Loans National the week before. Prior to his T30 finish at St. Andrew’s, the Californian claimed the Scottish Open having carded a twelve under weekend with a two pairs of 66 and 68. Key to his success at the tournament were three birdies in his closing four holes.
Fowler was successful via a playoff to win the “fifth major” at TPC Sawgrass in May, however a T30 finish at the Irish Open, followed by two missed cuts at the US Open and the Memorial Tournament resulted in the 26-year-old being a pleasantly surprising winner at the Scottish Open last month, and a runner-up last week.
Having come painstakingly close to securing a coveted first major victory last year, the PGA Championship represents a great chance for the Californian to claim majors honours at last. The world number five finished in the top five in each of last year’s four majors, among them a share of third place at Valhalla in last year’s PGA Championship, losing out by two strokes to McIlroy.
What’s eating Eldrick? Having appeared to have recovered from surgery, the Californian is yet to rekindle any type of form that has led him to 106 professional wins.
Despite a dip in form over the last number of years that has seen him plunge to number 262 in the world, Woods’s record at PGA Championships is formidable. Tiger has finished in the top five of seven PGA Championships, winning four in total. He also holds the tournament record score to par, shooting eighteen under in 2000 and 2006. His record at Whistling Straits is less convincing however, finishing T24 and T28 in 2004 and 2010 respectively.
Could it be the time that Tiger finally puts it right?
If the American doesn’t on this occasion, in the tournament that he has been dominant in the past, it is hard to believe that he will put it right anytime soon at least. During his T18 finish at the Quick Loans National earlier this month, Woods certainly showed glimpses of being able to put it right. Accordingly, it is an opportune time to for the 39-year-old to silence his critics, and demonstrate that his class is permanent.
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BIOGRAPHY: Ethan Hazard
BIOGRAPHY: Daniel Sturridge