Courtesy: The PGA of America
KOHLER, Wis. (WFRV) — News and notes going into Thursday’s first round of the PGA Championship:
THURSDAY’S FEATURED PARING
Group #35, which will tee off on No. 1 at 1:20 p.m. (CDT) on Thursday, is comprised of Defending PGA Champion Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Zach Johnson. Together, the trio has combined to win eight major championships. McIlroy and Spieth are currently ranked 1-2, respectively, in the Official World Golf Rankings, while Johnson occupies the 12th spot.
With McIlroy, Spieth and Johnson playing together, the PGA Championship’s featured group has accounted for each of the last four major championships for the first time since 2006, when Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Geoff Ogilvy combined to win the previous five majors. That year, Woods won at Medinah to extend the 2006 featured group’s string of major championships to six.
McIlory is “looking forward to being a part of that group this year. I was a part of it last year. Being in the [featured pairing] and Jordan winning two of the majors this year, obviously it gets me back into that grouping on Thursday afternoon. So it’s something I’m excited about. I knew I wasn’t going to have a low key return to the game and this definitely isn’t it.”
For the bulk of the 2015 season, Jordan Spieth has played with history on the line. That continues here at Whistling Straits, where he will attempt to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan on the short list of those to win three major championships in a single season. Woods turned the trick in 2000 with wins at the U.S. Open, Open Championship, and the PGA Championship. Hogan set the standard in 1953 by winning the Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.
When asked about his knowledge of Hogan, a fellow Texan, Spieth was happy to share that he was 12- or 13-years-old when he initially heard about Hogan. “I know he did some incredible things before and after an almost fatal car crash and his mental strength and his work ethic are second to none,” said Spieth. “It’s inspiring.”
STRONG FIELD AT WHISTLING STRAITS
According to the Official World Golf Ranking, the 97th PGA Championship field will fittingly include 97 of the top 100 players in the world. Three exceptions are not present due to injury: Chris Kirk (#24), Alexander Noren (#74) and Graham DeLaet (#89).
2010 PGA CHAMPIONSHIP ALUMS RETURN TO THE STRAITS
65 players from the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits are in the field this week. Nine of the 11 players to finish in the top 10, including ties, back in 2010 have returned to play the Straits Course again this week: 1. Martin Kaymer; P2. Bubba Watson; T-3 Zach Johnson; T-3 Rory McIlroy; T-5 Jason Dufner; T-5 Dustin Johnson; T-8 Camilo Villejas; T10 Matt Kuchar; T-10 Jason Day.
BIG CONTINGENT FROM AROUND THE WORLD
The 97th PGA Championship field features 77 internationally-born players representing 25 countries, a PGA Championship record and the most ever assembled at a U.S.-based major. The 77, which includes three PGA Club Professionals (Brett Jones/Australia, Johan Kok/South Africa, Steven Young/Scotland) now living domestically here in the United States, edged the totals from the 2010 and ’12 PGA Championships, both of which each had 73 international entrants.
THEY HAVE NOT MISSED A DANCE AT THE STRAITS
Twenty-nine players in this week’s field have competed in both the 2004 and 2010 PGA Championships at Whistling Straits: Vijay Singh, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott; Darren Clarke, David Toms, Shaun Micheel, Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy, Luke Donald, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Charles Howell III, Zach Johnson, Ian Poulter, David Howell, Padraig Harrington, Colin Montgomerie, Lee Westwood, Alex Cejka, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Davis Love III, Tim Clark, Rich Beem, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, Bob Sowards and John Daly.
THE JONES BOYS
Matt and Brett Jones, native Australians, are believed to be the first respective PGA Tour and PGA Club Professional brother combination to compete in the same PGA Championship. Among a list of brothers to have competed in the same PGA Championship are Edoardo and Francesco Molinari (2014); Lanny and Bobby Wadkins, last appearing together in 1995; and Lionel and Jay Hebert, last appearing together in 1960.
THE EVOLUTION OF THE WHISTLING STRAITS
Since 2010, new tees were added on Holes No. 5, 14 and 18, while the back tee on Hole No. 11 was removed and the hole shortened. Overall, the course is six yards shorter than it was in 2010. Modifications to Whistling Straits were also made following the 2004 PGA Championship and 2007 U.S. Senior Open, which focused on spectator access areas. These changes resulted in widening the walk areas through the dunes and allowing ample room for spectators to enjoy the vistas of Lake Michigan. In addition, the bunkers behind the No. 3 green were modified; an additional deep pot bunker to the front center of the No. 6 green was added; and the fairway of the 18th hole was extended down the left side of the creek.