The 2013 PGA Championship is officially upon us, as the first round of action has concluded and the second round looms. With Jim Furyk and Adam Scott tied for the lead at five under par and an abundance of players within striking distance, no one has emerged as a true favorite.
The question is, what can we expect from golf's biggest superstars with the tournament so tight?
Superstar is a term not easily earned, as players do not simply earn that right by becoming popular. More times than not, it takes years of major-championship success and the subsequent endorsements to build that level of recognition.
Here's what will transpire on Day 2.
Rory McIlroy (-1)
Rory McIlroy has struggled in an inexplicable manner over the past two years. He's finished better than 40th in major championships just twice, with one of those events happening to be the 2012 PGA Championship that he won.
One year later, he's showing signs of life once again.
McIlroy finished the opening round at one under par, which is a breath of fresh air after he'd been a non-factor at his past three major championships. What is concerning, however, is that McIlroy performed at a very poor level on the back nine.
He bogeyed three holes to bring his total down from three under to one under par.
McIlroy may have stumbled towards the end of the first round, but he remains within four strokes of the lead. That is far from insurmountable, especially for a player who has already won a PGA Championship title.
As for what's next, the safe bet would be for McIlroy to struggle to break even after his recent string of failures. With that being said, he's been quite successful at this event and is displaying signs of continuing that success in 2013.
Our money is on a round in the high 60s, improving his ground, but not by too much.
Phil Mickelson (+1)
Phil Mickelson won the 2013 Open Championship in a manner that truly captured the story of his career. He was wild and inconsistent, but when he found his groove, Mickelson was all but unstoppable.
During the first round of the 2013 PGA Championship, we saw all of that.
Who has the best shot of catching the leaders?
Mickelson struggled early, striking bogey on No. 3 and double bogey on No. 4. From Nos. 9 to 14, however, he birdied four of the six holes and fought his way to one under par, thus making a full recovery and solidifying himself as a contender.
Just like that, he hit a double bogey on 18, and our doubts returned.
If anyone can bounce back, it would be Lefty, who has done this time and time again. If anyone could turn this into a collapse, we'd be inclined to say that Mickelson would be the one, as well.
It's all about which side of him you trust.
With the confidence of winning The Open Championship, we're inclined to believe that Mickelson will be under par by the day's end. He has too much going for him to collapse now, and with the field as tight as can be, he'll need a strong performance.
With his back against the wall, Lefty is at his best.
Tiger Woods (+1)
Tiger Woods' first-round score was a tale of two two nines, as he finished the front at three over par and the back at two under. In the end, he finished the day at one over and moved to within six strokes of the lead.
Believe it or not, a first-round 71 is actually a positive thing for his chances of winning big.
Tiger Woods is 6 back. Bright side for Tiger fans: 3 of last 6 PGA winners were 6+ back after 1st round, including Woods in 2007.— Justin Ray (@JRayESPNGolf) August 8, 2013
As surprising a statistic as you'll find.
Woods remains the best golfer in the world, and there's a strong probability that the results of this tournament won't change that. The key here, however, is that Woods isn't fazed by his slow start.
According to Bob Harig of ESPN, Woods is pleased with his effort in Round 1.
"The round realistically could have been under par easily," said Woods, who chose to look at the bright side. "I played really well today. One loose 9-iron shot [on the fourth hole]. I made a few par putts out there as well.
"As I say, I feel like I played well enough and made some nice key putts, and the key is I left it in good spots too. I'm still right there. I mean ... as of right now, I'm only six back and we have a long way to go."
So what's next?
Woods was poor on the front nine and strong in the back end. He was two under par on the back nine, earning extreme confidence after sinking numerous par-saving putts.
Something tells us his score will be in the 60s on day two.