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Spieth, McIlroy seek milestones as Kiawah tests PGA elite


One of the world’s most formidable programs will take a look at golf’s biggest gamers when the PGA Championship begins Thursday at wind-swept Kiawah Island, the longest structure in main match historical past.

Three-time main winner Jordan Spieth chases a profession Grand Slam whereas four-time main champion Rory McIlroy tries to repeat his 2012 PGA victory at Kiawah Island to say his first main triumph in seven years.

There’s additionally each likelihood the elite area of 156, together with 35 main winners, will likely be humbled by the 7,876-yard Ocean Course, the place fickle winds swap route to baffle the very best of ballstrikers.

“It’s going to be a challenging course. It’s going to test all of us,” American Billy Horschel mentioned. “And I think it’s going to make a lot of us look like fools this week.”

Deep grass, sandy waste areas and marshlands that is likely to be dubbed swamp in much less rich neighborhoods await errant pictures close to the oceanside.

“Getting onto those greens in regulation is going to be very important this week,” Spieth mentioned

“This week I think it’ll be more about hitting middle of greens and then taking advantage of par-5s.”

Organizers can play ahead tees to make sure holes play alternative ways on completely different days, forcing extra shot choice and membership selection selections onto gamers already feeling pressure from circumstances.

“For the sake of our sanity, I believe they’re going to use a couple forward tees,” third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain mentioned.

“When you have a place like this that’s narrow targets and windy, you’ve got to pick a shot and be fully committed to it, otherwise it’s going to be impossible to get around this golf course.”

Whoever walks off with the $1.98 million high prize from an $11 million whole purse could have earned it.

“For the guys who get their eye in this week, there’s opportunity for good scores,” 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott of Australia mentioned.

“But for the guys who struggle, there are probably going to be big scores on the board.”

Spieth, who snapped a four-year win drought final month in Texas, might turn out to be solely the sixth participant to finish the profession Grand Slam and the primary to take action by profitable a PGA.

McIlroy, who ended his 18-month win drought two weeks in the past at Quail Hollow, hopes to construct on that victory on a course the place he has already tasted main success.

“I’m happy with where my game is,” McIlroy mentioned. “I can see myself shooting good scores on this golf course.

“If I play my sport considerably near the very best of my capacity, I’m certain I’ll have a superb likelihood.”

Patrick Reed, the 2018 Masters champion, will be looking for safe landing spots and picking his moments to attack very carefully.

“Especially on the holes which are downwind, it is the place can I miss it as a way to have a straightforward likelihood to make par,” Reed said. “You need to be enjoying from the green however your brief sport must be tight.”

– About the mental game –

Second-ranked Justin Thomas could overtake fellow American Dustin Johnson for the world number one spot this week with a victory if Johnson, finishes worse than alone in fifth.

Johnson has been a runner-up in the past two PGA Championships and was third in 2018.

“In phrases of my golf sport, I really feel actually good about it,” Thomas said. “I’ve been working towards arduous. I really feel like I’ve been shut however simply not fairly placing it collectively.

“It’s a very difficult test and it’s really just going to be about your mental game and your patience throughout the week.”

Thomas will play alongside four-time main winners McIlroy and Brooks Koepka for the primary two rounds.

Defending champion Collin Morikawa will play Friday and Saturday alongside reigning US Open champion Bryson DeChambeau and final month’s Masters winner, Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama.

World quantity 4 Xander Schauffele hopes this will likely be a breakthrough week for his first main title. He has eight high 10s in 15 main begins, together with runner-up efforts on the 2018 British Open and 2019 Masters and a share of third final month at Augusta National.

“All the failed attempts are hopefully going to lead to success at some point,” Schauffele mentioned.

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