World’s best eye PGA glory at Bethpage Black
It what is commonly referred to as the weakest major, the list of competitors at the 2019 PGA Championship is impressive. For the first time at a major, or any golf tournament for that matter, every player in the Official Golf World Ranking top-100 (outside of the injured Thomas) will tee it up at Bethpage Black this Thursday in New York.
The field, totalling 156 players, features 34 major champions with a combined 67 major championships and 69 international players representing 27 countries.
Koepka will head to this week’s PGA Championship confident he can go back-to-back following his 4th place finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson (Credit: Getty Images)
This championship has 12 players who have been ranked No. 1 in the world, including reigning number 1 Dustin Johnson. Brooks Koepka, who won the Wanamaker Trophy at Bellerive last year, as well as the US Open at Bethpage, is coming off an impressive 4th placing last week in Dallas.
Tiger Woods, who won his 15th major at the Masters a month back, is a previous winner at Bethpage, capturing the 2002 US Open at the Long Island venue. Woods, 43, has four PGA wins in his career.
The 2017 champion Justin Thomas has withdrawn and Kelly Kraft has taken his spot. Thomas, ranked 5th in the world, hasn’t played since his T-12 at the Masters. His wrist injiry also kept him out of the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks ago, which was the site of his 2017 PGA Championship victory.
Rickie Fowler will be hunting his maiden major victory and enters the week strong. Although he missed the cut at Bethpage Black as an amateur at the 2009 US Open, Fowler finished T-24 and T-7 in his two starts there as a professional at the 2012 and 2016 Barclays. A winner already this year in Phoenix, Fowler picked up his 10th career major top-10 at the Masters.
Aussie Jason Day has been going about his business nicely and to some extent under the radar with the former World No. 1 banking five top-10s this season, including at the Players and the Masters. Day appears healthy and ready to add to his victory at Whistling Straits back in 2015.
Adam Scott sent a message last year at the PGA with a 3rd place finish that shows he still has what it takes to claim another major victory. The greens at Bethpage are not as challenging as other major layouts, which should add to Scott’s confidence if he gets his driver going.
Marc Leishman was forced to miss the Byron Nelson event with a back injury, yet is scheduled to play this week. A four-time PGA Tour winner, including at this season’s CIMB Classic, Leishman will need to be in form this week as he hunts his first major victory following a number of close finishes.
The Victorian thrives under major pressure and is certainly experienced with being in the breech heading into the final back nine come Sunday.
Other Aussies teeing it up include club professionals Stuart Deane and Craig Hocknull, with tour professionals Brendan Jones, Cameron Smith and Lucas Herbert rounding out the Australian lineup.
From a viewing position the grouping of Woods, Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari will be thrilling to follow when play gets underway this Thursday. World number one Dustin Johnson will play alongside Spain’s Jon Rahm and Jordan Spieth.