5 players to watch at the 101st PGA Championship

Tiger Woods (AP)
Tiger Woods (AP)

Bethpage - Five players to watch at the 101st PGA Championship, which begins on Thursday at Bethpage Black:

Tiger Woods

The 43-year-old American completed one of the greatest comebacks in sports history after an epic sex scandal and agonising back pain by winning the Masters last month for his 15th major title. He hadn't won a major since the 2008 US Open. Sixth-ranked Woods won the 2002 US Open at Bethpage Black and if he wins here again this week he would match the record 82 career US PGA wins of Sam Snead. He'd also be the 10th-oldest major winner in history. Only five golfers have won the first two majors of the year since the start of the Masters - Ben Hogan (1951), Arnold Palmer (1960), Jack Nicklaus (1972), Tiger Woods (2002) and Jordan Spieth (2015).

Brooks Koepka

Two-time reigning US Open winner Koepka tries to defend another major title this week at Bethpage. The 29-year-old American held off Woods down the stretch last year at the PGA Championship at Bellerive but settled for a runner-up spot to Woods at the Masters. Third-ranked Koepka could become the first golfer to hold back-to-back titles at two majors at once, aided by the PGA move from August to May this year.

Rory McIlroy

The four-time major winner from Northern Ireland has twice hoisted the Wanamaker Trophy but hasn't won a major title since the 2014 PGA. This year, he already has a Players Championship victory and seven other top-10 showings but his worst result was a share of 21st at the Masters in his bid to complete a career Grand Slam. The world number four will be playing his first major since turning 30 earlier this month.

Francesco Molinari

The reigning British Open champion from Italy was in the hunt at the Masters before stumbles on Sunday's back nine cost him the green jacket. The 36-year-old from Turin was a 2017 PGA runner-up and shared sixth last year. His third at the Masters was a third consecutive top-six major finish. Seventh-ranked Molinari won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March at Bay Hill for his first title since last July at Carnoustie.

Jordan Spieth

The three-time major winner has struggled this season but can complete a career Grand Slam with a victory at Bethpage. He captured the 2015 Masters and US Open and 2017 British Open but has not won anywhere since his most recent major triumph at Royal Birkdale. The 25-year-old American has yet to crack the top 20 this year, his best showing a share of 21st at the Masters, and has slumped to 39th in the world rankings.

Tee times for Thursday's opening round of the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black (all times SA):

1st Tee

12:45: Rob Labritz (USA), Beau Hossler (USA), J.J. Spaun (USA)

12:56: Sam Burns (USA), Jeffrey Schmid (USA), Keith Mitchell (USA)

13:07: An Byeong-hun (KOR), Jason Caron (USA), Andrew Putnam (USA)

13:18: John O'Leary (USA), Harold Varner (USA), Kyle Stanley (USA)

13:29: Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Justin Harding (RSA), Richy Werenski (USA)

13:40: Vijay Singh (FIJ), Jason Dufner (USA), Jimmy Walker (USA)

13:51: Graeme McDowell (NIR), Chez Reavie (USA), Brendan Jones (AUS)

14:02: Tyrrell Hatton (ENG), Russell Knox (SCO), Li Haotong (CHN)

14:13: Lee Westwood (ENG), Shaun Norris (RSA), Charles Howell (USA)

14:24: J.B. Holmes (USA), Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Troy Merritt (USA)

14:35: Joost Luiten (NED), Brian Mackey (USA), Matt Wallace (ENG)

14:46: Casey Russell (USA), Luke List (USA), Abraham Ancer (MEX)

14:57: Craig Bowden (USA), Adam Long (USA), Joaquin Niemann (CHI)

18:10: Michael Thompson (USA), Danny Lee (NZL), Justin Bertsch (USA)

18:21: Cameron Champ (USA), Rich Berberian (USA), Lucas Glover (USA)

18:32: Emiliano Grillo (ARG), Daniel Berger (USA), Paul Casey (ENG)

18:43: Tony Finau (USA), Billy Horschel (USA), Ian Poulter (ENG)

18:54: Matt Fitzpatrick (ENG), Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP), Gary Woodland (USA)

19:05: Padraig Harrington (IRL), Martin Kaymer (GER), Keegan Bradley (USA)

19:16: Jon Rahm (ESP), Dustin Johnson (USA), Jordan Spieth (USA)

19:27: Pat Perez (USA), Kevin Kisner (USA), Bryson DeChambeau (USA)

19:38: Rory McIlroy (NIR), Phil Mickelson (USA), Jason Day (AUS)

19:49: Satoshi Kodaira (JPN), Matt Kuchar (USA), Cameron Smith (AUS)

20:00: Corey Conners (CAN), Jim Furyk (USA), Marc Leishman (AUS)

20:11: Jorge Campillo (ESP), Stuart Deane (AUS), Chesson Hadley (USA)

20:22: Dylan Frittelli (RSA), Andrew Filbert (USA), Kurt Kitayama (USA)

10th Tee

12:45: Ben Cook (USA), Scott Piercy (USA), Brian Gay (USA)

12:56: Thomas Pieters (BEL), Patton Kizzire (USA), Adam Hadwin (CAN)

13:07: Brandt Snedeker (USA), Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA), Max Homa (USA)

13:18: Henrik Stenson (SWE), David Lipsky (USA), Richard Sterne (RSA)

13:29: Shane Lowry (IRL), Erik van Rooyen (RSA), Tommy Fleetwood (ENG)

13:40: Sergio Garcia (ESP), Kelly Kraft (USA), Adam Scott (AUS)

13:51: Charley Hoffman (USA), Louis Oosthuizen (RSA), Patrick Reed (USA)

14:02: Rickie Fowler (USA), Bubba Watson (USA), Justin Rose (ENG)

14:13: Xander Schauffele (USA), Hideki Matsuyama (JPN), Alex Noren (SWE)

14:24: Brooks Koepka (USA), Francesco Molinari (ITA), Tiger Woods (USA)

14:35: Aaron Wise (USA), Ryan Fox (NZL), Shugo Imahira (JPN)

14:46: Julian Suri (USA), Marty Jertson (USA), Martin Trainer (USA)

14:57: Lucas Herbert (AUS), Cory Schneider (USA), Im Sung-jai (KOR)

18:10: Ryan Vermeer (USA), Adrian Otaegui (ESP), Jason Kokrak (USA)

18:21: Alex Bjork (SWE), Rod Perry (USA), Ross Fisher (ENG)

18:32: Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Branden Grace (RSA), Ryan Palmer (USA)

18:43: Ryan Moore (USA), Joel Dahmen (USA), Thorbjorn Olesen (DEN)

18:54: Yang Yong-eun (KOR), Rich Beem (USA), John Daly (USA)

19:05: Steve Stricker (USA), Brian Harman (USA), Patrick Cantlay (USA)

19:16: Kang Sung (KOR), Shaun Micheel (USA), Alex Beach (USA)

19:27: Pan C.T. (TPE), Kevin Na (USA), Ryan Armour (USA)

19:38: Danny Willett (ENG), Webb Simpson (USA), Zach Johnson (USA)

19:49: Kevin Tway (USA), Brandon Stone (RSA), Bronson Burgoon (USA)

20:00: Kim Si-woo (KOR), Danny Balin (USA), Tom Lewis (ENG)

20:11: Jazz Janewattananond (THA), Tyler Hall (USA), Michael Kim (USA)

20:22: Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Craig Hocknull (AUS), Jhonattan Vegas (VEN)

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