PGA Championship 2020: Tee Times, Schedule and Predictions for Top GroupingsAugust 5, 2020
Golf fans no longer have to wait for major championship season.
The PGA Championship begins Thursday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, and a host of players will stake their individual claims for the famous Wanamaker Trophy.
Two-time defending champion Brooks Koepka will look to make it three in a row, while world No. 1 Justin Thomas will look to continue his strong run of play in an unprecedented 2020 PGA Tour season.
Thomas, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy highlight the morning groups, with Woods competing in just his second tournament since the season resumed in June.
Meanwhile, the trio of Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler and Adam Scott headline the afternoon slate, with DeChambeau hoping his length pays dividends and Scott making his first start since the resumption of play.
All players in the field will be hoping to set the tone with a solid start in Round 1. Given players are still building their games up after a long hiatus, it could be anyone's tournament to win.
Thursday PGA Championship Tee Times
The full list of times can be found at PGATour.com
10:27 a.m. ET*: Tony Finau, Danny Willett, Patrick Cantlay
10:49 a.m. ET*: Daniel Berger, Xander Schauffele, Steve Stricker
11:11 a.m. ET*: Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland, Shane Lowry
11:22 a.m. ET*: Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose
11:33 a.m. ET*: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
4:36 p.m. ET: Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama
4:47 p.m. ET: Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau, Adam Scott
4:58 p.m. ET: Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia
* - will start at 10th hole
Predictions for Top Groupings
Reigning Major Champions Start Fast
The morning group consisting of Koepka, Gary Woodland and Shane Lowry should be intriguing.
Koepka is the reigning PGA champion, while Woodland won last year's U.S. Open and Lowry captured The Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
Woodland has fond memories of major championships at California courses. The Kansas native staved off a hard-charging Kopeka at Pebble Beach to claim his first major title in June 2019. Meanwhile, Lowry has five top-10s in majors and is also coming off a decent performance at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational last weekend.
However, all eyes will be on Koepka. The West Palm Beach, Florida, native has practically become a sure thing to be in contention at the majors, as Koepka finished fourth or better in all four of them last year.
Koepka has struggled to find his game in 2020. He ranks just 63rd in total strokes gained and 146th in strokes gained putting. But he finished in a tie for second at the St. Jude Invitational after a blistering start and figures to find a little extra motivation at Harding Park.
All three players should push one another out of the gate. Koepka set the tone for last year's victory at Bethpage Black by firing a first-round 63, tying a PGA Championship record. However, both Woodland and Lowry will likely be incentivized playing alongside the defending champion, and they could post some low scores in potentially softer conditions in the morning.
Predictions: Koepka (-4, 66), Woodland (-2, 68), Lowry (-2, 68)
Woods Battles; Thomas and McIlroy Thrive
Three of the sport's most recognizable faces tee off just 22 minutes after the aforementioned group, and each has their own storyline.
Tiger is looking for major championship No. 16, which would put him two off Jack Nicklaus' record of 18. Woods barely made the cut at the Memorial and acknowledged back stiffness is just something he has to get used to at this stage of his career. But he is still capable of magic, as he proved at last year's Masters.
The 44-year-old said he is not concerned about his lack of tournament golf or the relatively cold weather forecast in San Francisco. Time will tell whether the California native can string together four quality rounds.
McIlroy had been the best player on tour prior to the suspension of play. He finished no worse than fifth in his first six starts, including a win at the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. However, the Northern Irishman has not made a top-10 in each of his last five starts since the resumption of play.
That being said, McIlroy ranks fourth in strokes gained off the tee and 20th in strokes gained from approach, so he still has a good chance to use his length to score. He should be hungry for his first major since the 2014 PGA Championship.
While McIlroy has sputtered, Thomas continues to ascend. The University of Alabama product won his third tournament of the year at the St. Jude Invitational and tops the FedEx standings. Thomas also ranks second in scoring average, and he ranks first in terms of strokes gained from approach and total strokes gained.
It might take Tiger the first nine to get more comfortable and reacquainted with a tournament atmosphere. But expect Thomas and McIlroy to come out firing.
Predictions: Thomas (67, -3), McIlroy (-1, 69), Woods (71, +1)
All stats obtained via PGATour.com, unless otherwise noted.