The eyes of the golf world will be on Whistling Straits this week as the top golfers in the world aim to capture the final major championship of the 2015 season: the PGA Championship.
This is the third time the venue has hosted the event, with the last two coming in 2004 and 2010. Back in '04, Vijay Singh won what is the last of his three major tournaments, while Martin Kaymer reigned supreme six years later.
Both of those PGA Championships required a playoff to determine a winner, and with any luck, this year's edition will feature a similarly dramatic finish.
PGA Championship Odds
|Favorites to Win PGA Championship|
|Source: Odds Shark|
Jordan Spieth will enter the PGA Championship as the favorite, and rightfully so. He won the first two majors of the year and was one stroke away from getting into a four-way playoff to determine The Open Championship winner.
Clearly, the 22-year-old can handle the weight of expectation.
Even scarier for the competition is the fact Spieth said he is going into the PGA Championship with a chip on his shoulder, according to ESPN.com's Bob Harig:
I'm hoping to kind of prove, coming off of this last major, that I've kind of got a little bit of revenge that I need to get out from having control of the Open Championship with two holes to go and not closing it out. That leaves kind of a bad taste in my mouth, not because of the third in a row, but strictly because you don't get many opportunities to contend in a major, in an Open at St. Andrews, in your life.
Between his disappointment at The Open Championship and somewhat lackluster finish at the Bridgestone—by his standards—Spieth will be a man on a mission at Whistling Straits.
Rory McIlroy is unquestionably one of the best golfers on the planet, but he is a bit of a wild card heading into the PGA Championship, which seems kind of weird to say yet isn't without merit. The reigning champion hasn't played a competitive round since rupturing an ankle ligament in July.
The 26-year-old hinted with this tweet from last Friday that he'd be at Whistling Straits to defend his crown:
The next morning, the PGA Championship's official account posted a photo of McIlroy getting in a practice round:
The oddsmakers have installed McIlroy as one of the top favorites, as noted in the above table, but you still wonder just how he'll perform in his first tournament back. Is he going to be rusty at all? Is his surgically repaired ankle even 100 percent? Is he going to play at all?
Until those questions are answered, it's too early to predict McIlroy going back-to-back.
Meanwhile, it's anybody's guess as to how Tiger Woods performs.
The 14-time major champion hasn't finished in the top 10 of any tournament in which he's entered, and that run includes missed cuts at both the U.S. Open and Open Championship. Nobody expects to see the "Old Tiger" again, but you'd hope he could at least reach a point where he's still competitive in the biggest events of the year.
The Quicken Loans National was a week that Tiger needed badly. It would've been better if he hadn't totally tanked in Saturday's third round, then he might have been in the mix Sunday. Then again, it may have been a blessing in disguise as it delivered a reminder that he's not there yet—but, and this is the big news, he appears to be on the right track again.
Seeing is believing. Tiger played well in Thursday's first round after he finished chopping up the first four holes. He played very well in Friday's second round, missing maybe only two shots, and he even had a familiar electrifying moment near the end of the round when he poured in a 35-footer for birdie.
As much as Woods has struggled the past couple of years, nobody will want to see him creeping up the leaderboard through the weekend.
Troy Merritt got hot at the Quicken Loans National and won his first-ever PGA Tour title. Is it outside the realm of possibility Woods could find his groove at Whistling Straits and pick up major title No. 15?
Even if Tiger crashes and burns once again, the PGA Championship will have no shortage of marquee stars to follow over the four days.
Some fans might have lost some interest in the tournament after Spieth's pursuit of the Grand Slam ended at The Open Championship.
As the Associated Press' Doug Ferguson noted (via PGA.com), viewers can remain invested in a different notable record. Not since 1982 has an American one all four majors in the same calendar year. The last time Americans got three-fourths of the way was in 1995.
That doesn't quite measure up to the Grand Slam, but it's a compelling storyline to follow once play begins Thursday.
Note: Full PGA Championship odds can be viewed at Odds Shark.