The final major of the 2014 PGA season is here.
Not only is the PGA Championship the send-off for some of the world's best, but it also offers golfers a chance to earn 600 points in the FedEx Cup standings and an opportunity to further Ryder Cup ambitions. There also happens to be a $10 million purse.
So in no way, shape or form is it an exaggeration to say the four rounds set to unfold at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky—which last hosted the tournament 14 years ago—are quite important.
Also remember that there is a new No. 1 player in the world who must overcome historical odds to nab a win. And then there is Tiger Woods, who will play as long as his health allows.
Don't miss out.
Where: Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky
When: Thursday, August 7, through Sunday, August 10
Watch: TNT and CBS
Live Stream: PGA.com
|Thursday, Aug. 7||1 p.m. - 7 p.m.||TNT|
|Friday, Aug. 8||1 p.m. - 7 p.m.||TNT|
|Saturday, Aug. 9||11 a.m. - 2 p.m.||TNT|
|Saturday, Aug. 9||2 p.m. - 7 p.m.||CBS|
|Sunday, Aug. 10||11 a.m. - 2 p.m.||TNT|
|Sunday, Aug. 10||2 p.m. - 7 p.m.||CBS|
Day 1 Tee Times
|Round 1 Time (ET)||Golfer||Golfer||Golfer|
|7:30 a.m.||Brian Norman||Russell Knox||Roberto Castro|
|7:40 a.m.||Charles Howell III||Aaron Krueger||Joost Luiten|
|7:50 a.m.||Billy Horschel||Jamie Broce||George Coetzee|
|8 a.m.||Brian Stuard||Brendon Todd||Pablo Larrazabal|
|8:10 a.m.||Freddie Jacobson||Nick Watney||Brendon de Jonge|
|8:20 a.m.||Matt Every||Ross Fisher||Kevin Chappell|
|8:30 a.m.||John Daly||Mark Brooks||Rich Beem|
|8:40 a.m.||K.J. Choi||Thongchai Jaidee||Brian Harman|
|8:50 a.m.||Thomas Bjorn||Kevin Stadler||Harris English|
|9 a.m.||Jamie Donaldson||Hyung-Sun Kim||Stewart Cink|
|9:10 a.m.||Stephen Gallacher||Jason Kokrak||Rafael Cabrera-Bello|
|9:20 a.m.||Kevin Streelman||Ryan Helminen||Edoardo Molinari|
|9:30 a.m.||Brendan Steele||Rob Corcoran||Pat Perez|
|7:35 a.m.||Robert Karlsson||Frank Esposito||Koumei Oda|
|7:45 a.m.||Hideki Matsuyama||Angel Cabrera||Patrick Reed|
|7:55 a.m.||Shaun Micheel||Colin Montgomerie||Michael Block|
|8:05 a.m.||Rickie Fowler||Victor Dubuisson||Ernie Els|
|8:15 a.m.||Jordan Spieth||Adam Scott||Lee Westwood|
|8:25 a.m.||Jimmy Walker||Ian Poulter||Jason Day|
|8:35 a.m.||Padraig Harrington||Phil Mickelson||Tiger Woods|
|8:45 a.m.||Graeme McDowell||Brandt Snedeker||Brooks Koepka|
|8:55 a.m.||Miguel Angel Jimenez||Charl Schwartzel||Jim Furyk|
|9:05 a.m.||Matt Kuchar||Louis Oosthuizen||Justin Rose|
|9:15 a.m.||Marc Leishman||Boo Weekley||Bernd Wiesberger|
|9:25 a.m.||Russ Henley||David McNabb||Marc Warren|
|9:35 a.m.||Mikko Ilonen||Jerry Smith||George McNeill|
|12:45 p.m.||Ryo Ishikawa||Matt Pesta||Rory Sabbatini|
|12:55 p.m.||Scott Stallings||Eric Williamson||Matteo Manassero|
|1:05 p.m.||Jonas Blixt||Webb Simpson||Erik Compton|
|1:15 p.m.||Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano||Graham DeLaet||Gary Woodland|
|1:25 p.m.||Sergio Garcia||Steve Stricker||Tom Watson|
|1:35 p.m.||Kenny Perry||Ryan Moore||Henrik Stenson|
|1:45 p.m.||Bubba Watson||Martin Kaymer||Rory McIlroy|
|1:55 p.m.||Jason Dufner||Y.E. Yang||Keegan Bradley|
|2:05 p.m.||Luke Donald||J.B. Holmes||Francesco Molinari|
|2:15 p.m.||Zach Johnson||Darren Clarke||Richard Sterne|
|2:25 p.m.||Tim Clark||Paul Casey||Kevin Na|
|2:35 p.m.||Steve Bowditch||Rod Perry||Ben Crane|
|2:45 p.m.||David Hronek||Chris Stroud||Jason Bohn|
|12:40 p.m.||Shane Lowry||Bob Sowards||Ryan Palmer|
|12:50 p.m.||Charley Hoffman||Dustin Volk||Scott Brown|
|1 p.m.||Alexander Levy||Stuart Deane||David Hearn|
|1:10 p.m.||David Tentis||Fabrizio Zanotti||Danny Willett|
|1:20 p.m.||Anirban Lahiri||Bill Haas||John Senden|
|1:30 p.m.||Vijay Singh||Davis Love III||David Toms|
|1:40 p.m||Cameron Tringale||Scott Piercy||Kiradech Aphibarnrat|
|1:50 p.m.||Branden Grace||Hunter Mahan||Thorbjorn Olesen|
|2 p.m.||Chris Kirk||Matt Jones||Seung-Yul Noh|
|2:10 p.m.||Jerry Kelly||Tommy Fleetwood||Hideto Tanihara|
|2:20 p.m.||Will MacKenzie||Steve Schneiter||Chesson Hadley|
|2:30 p.m.||Johan Kok||Ben Martin||Chris Wood|
|2:40 p.m.||Daniel Summerhays||Jim McGovern||Geoff Ogilvy|
For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Storylines to Watch
Rory McIlroy's Historical Pursuit
The man is simply on fire.
As the new world No. 1, Rory McIlroy is on the hunt for a third straight win after his triumph at The Open Championship was parlayed into a win at the Bridgestone Invitational, where he blew away the field in large part thanks to a 1.359 strokes gained putting average.
It is important to note, though, that no player has won back-to-back majors since one Padraig Harrington in 2008, and winning three tournaments in a row just does not happen. Still, McIlroy has to understand what is on the line beginning Thursday:
Rory McIlroy could become 3rd golfer in Masters Era (since 1934) with 4 Majors by age 25 (Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus) pic.twitter.com/1lfFcikfeO— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 5, 2014
Interestingly enough, McIlroy is familiar with one name on that list thanks to his performance at the 2012 edition of the PGA Championship. His win came by eight strokes and shattered Jack Nicklaus' record that had held strong since 1980.
Perhaps most impressive of all is how humble McIlroy has acted throughout it all. That level of maturity might just allow him to keep his cool in the face of such long odds and historical implications.
"I've had a great run over the past few months, but sometimes people are too quick to jump on the bandwagon," McIlroy said, per BBC.com. "It's nice to win a few tournaments and get back to where I feel I should be, but I'm not sure you can call that the start of an era."
Wise beyond his years and in possession of a form better than anyone else at the moment, it is easy to see why most consider McIlroy the runaway favorite.
Adam Scott and Redemption
It matters little that Adam Scott has not skipped a beat. Twelve of 12 made cuts. Eight top-10 finishes. A recent string of scorecards that is downright smooth:
|5/25/14||Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial||P1||71||68||66||66||-9|
|6/01/14||The Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance||T4||69||70||68||71||-10|
|7/20/14||The Open Championship||T5||68||73||69||66||-12|
|8/03/14||World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational||T8||69||68||65||71||-7|
Still, Scott is suddenly without his world No. 1 ranking, and it has him a bit motivated, to say the least, per ESPN Golf:
One could easily argue that Scott is due for a hiccup in performance, but that pendulum very much swings in the other direction too. Really, there is nothing to suggest he is even close to a dip. He has 12 top-15 major finishes since 2011, a mark no golfer on tour can match.
That domination just so happens to include the PGA Championship, where he has finished seventh, 11th and fifth in the past three years.
As one can glean from Scott's recent performances and his new fire after seeing his rank ripped away, it is a simple matter of aggression rather than conservative play at this point. Should Scott turn it up a notch and keep his current consistency, it would prove a combustible formula that may lead to a title.
Tiger Woods' Health
Now 38 years old and with an ever-fading chance at another major after his last one came in 2008, Woods will suit up this weekend despite an early exit mere days ago at the Bridgestone Invitational.
He confirmed the news to the media Wednesday after a trial run on the course, as Ron Green Jr. of the Global Golf Post explains:
Tiger sounded upbeat after playing 9 holes...said back issue at Firestone was unrelated to surgery...."I'm pain free...I feel good"— RonGreenJr (@RonGreenJr) August 6, 2014
For those who are skeptical that the issue may be past him, ESPN.com's Bob Harig points out that Woods was all-in when it came to his test approach before he made the decision:
If Tiger is worried about taking it easy... doesn't appear to be the case so far. This warm-up session is like full-out practice.— Bob Harig (@BobHarig) August 6, 2014
With the media circus over, Woods now turns his attention to the task at hand, which he notes is rather challenging given the changes to the course since 2000.
"I need to get more feel for how this golf course is playing," he said, per Harig. "I'm not used to seeing the chipping areas like this. We didn't have that in 2000. It was just deep blue grass. That's a bit of a different look and different options."
Fans can be forgiven for letting it slip their minds that, yes, it was a much younger version of Tiger Woods who won that tournament in 2000 via a three-hole playoff over Bob May to make it two PGA Championships in a row.
Things are quite different this time around, obviously, but if Woods is truly feeling no pain and gets a hang of the course, anything can happen once the early rounds give way to the always-chaotic weekend.