Day 1 of the 2014 PGA Championship begins Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, and golf fans from around the world are ready for what promises to be four days of intense competition.
This is the PGA Tour's final major of the season. With several big-name players carrying momentum into the tournament, the expectations for an exciting battle on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course have hardcore and casual golf fans prepared for a slugfest.
Here is the vital viewing information for Day 1 of the 2014 PGA Championship and predictions for the top stars.
Where: Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky
TV Coverage Time: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET
Live Stream: PGA.com
|Predicted Finish||Player||Predicted Score|
Donald Wood's Predictions
Player to Watch: Rickie Fowler
There are several players, like Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott, looking to win this year's PGA Championship, but a major contender for the fans to keep an eye on at home will be California native Rickie Fowler.
While the 25-year-old star is best known for his colorful outfits and his love of extreme sports, he has revamped his swing and is now hitting the ball better than at any other point in his career.
After finishing fifth at the Masters in April, Fowler went through a stretch of inconsistent play before finding a rhythm heading into the U.S. Open. Not only did he finish in second at both the U.S. Open and the British Open, but he also managed top-10 finishes at each of the smaller tournaments in between.
Fowler may not have won a tournament this season, but six top-10 finishes prove he has the ability to score low rounds consistently and contend for the victory in the fourth round.
When asked about coming up just short in the British Open to McIlroy, Fowler told Ian O'Connor of ESPN.com about his performance and the momentum he has built:
It's hard to be disappointed about it because it was such a great week. And with the way I had been playing in the majors, there was some pressure to play well this week. But with how comfortable I've been ... it doesn't feel like a big stage. It feels like I should be here. ... There's plenty more to come. I'll take 15 under in a lot of majors and sit there and wait in the clubhouse.
The biggest change Fowler has made this year has been his swing. With some help from veteran coach Butch Harmon, the American player has revamped his game and found a rhythm with his driver, his irons and now even his putter.
According to the official Twitter of Golf Central, Harmon's impact has been obvious:
Rickie Fowler’s work with Butch Harmon is having noticeable effects on his game: pic.twitter.com/k1W4zrQphl— Golf Central (@GolfCentral) August 1, 2014
The real key for Fowler is his composure. He has looked unflappable at the previous three majors, and his scores reflect that. Coming into the PGA Championship, he has averaged a 69.8 score per round at the Masters, U.S. Open and the British Open. That would be enough to win most tournaments, but he has faced stiff competition at each event.
Will Rickie Fowler win the 2014 PGA Championship?
If Fowler can maintain his composure and just play each shot to the best of his ability without getting too far ahead of himself, there is no doubt that he will be in contention Sunday for the win.
Now, he just needs to prove he can finish the job.
Predicted Finish: 2014 PGA Championship Winner
*Stats via PGATour.com.