After his thrilling Masters victory at Augusta last month Tiger Woods heads to New York seeking the 16th major win of his career and his third US PGA Championship, meaning the revitalised superstar is bound to be centre of attention once more.
Traditionally the fourth of the big four the PGA Championship comes around earlier this year and is Woods’ first outing since his astonishing Augusta triumph and organisers could not have asked for a better narrative for the relaunch of its new springtime date.
And the biggest question is how Woods will fare after his first major win in more than a decade when he takes on the formidable Long Island layout and the scene of his 2002 US Open triumph?
From his 1999 PGA Championship victory, through to the US Open of 2002, Woods won seven out of 11 majors, while adding six more between the 2005 Masters and US Open of 2008 before a succession of injuries, numerous operations and a number of well publicised personal problems looked to have brought a premature end to his dominance.
But his success at Augusta has, for now at least, brought an end to that speculation, and he will arrive on Long Island as the main topic of conversation once again looking to prove to the world that it was no fluke.
In his quest for a 16th major title Woods skipped Quail Hollow two weeks ago and the Byron Nelson last weekend, choosing to spend his time practicing at Bethpage in tricky conditions as storms and heavy rain hampered his preparations but the fact that he is putting so much into this event demonstrates the 43-year old feels he still has every chance of taking the title.
McIlroy can thrive in heavy conditions
The sign at the public course hosting the tournament famously proclaims: “The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend for highly skilled golfers,” so picking a winner here might prove to be pretty tricky.
The Damp and soggy conditions might play into the hands of former PGA Champion Rory McIlroy as the Northern Irishman has often thrived when it’s heavy under foot thanks to the length of his drives and accuracy off the tee with the four-time major champion, two of which were PGA wins, currently available at 12.00* to win his third.
Then there’s current world number 1 Dustin Johnson who needs to perform at the highest level in order to justify his standing as the world’s best and has looked indifferent in recent weeks following a largely unimpressive performance at the Masters in Georgia yet is still 10.00* to take take the title here.
But it’s defending champion Brooks Koepka who perhaps should be considered the greatest threat in New York this weekend as he successfully defended his US Open title last year and has every chance of doing the same with his PGA crown.
Koepka put together a solid major display at the Masters in Augusta last month and looked equally as dangerous at the Byron Nelson a week ago with a closing 65 on Sunday to once again illustrate his consistency on the big stage and can be backed here at 12.00.*
Although it might not have the glamour and romance of the Masters, is not the most difficult of tests compared to the US Open and lacks the historical significance and tradition of The Open, the PGA Championship in its new place on the golfing calendar is bound to benefit from the newfound hype which now surrounds Tiger Woods once again and for that we should all be grateful.
*Odds subject to change