Jordan Spieth feels the support he has received from other players on the PGA Tour is helping him to overcome his "slump" in performances.

Ahead of this week's US PGA Championship at Bethpage Black, where Spieth is looking to complete a career Grand Slam, the American's poor form has been the subject of significant scrutiny.

The three-time major winner has dropped from third in the world rankings at this time last year to number 39 and has not managed a top-20 finish in 2019. His last tournament victory, meanwhile, was The Open in July 2017.

"I didn't like go away from the game for five years, I just happened to not win in the last year and a half or so," Spieth, 25, told reporters.

Asked if he felt any awkwardness from fellow players or difficulty with expectations, Spieth added: "No, I don't feel that way at all. I've had friends on Tour reach out and say, hey, everyone goes through ups and downs, and you're pretty much - stick to it, you're doing the right things.

"I don't want to use the word negativity, but the questioning and the wording that's used to describe me by media or whatever over the past year has only come up because of the amount of success that I've had.

"So it actually could be looked at positively, as well, because if I didn't have the success that I've had, then, first of all, I wouldn't be in here right now. 

"Second of all, it would be, 'Oh, his game is progressing nicely', you'd be actually looking at the progression of the game instead of the comparisons constantly to when someone is at their best, which I think is unfair to anybody in any field.

"But it's not me to tell anybody how to do their job, it's just one of those things where you've just got to block out the noise and stay the course and believe in yourself. It's been an adjustment being in a bit of a slump, on both sides [technically and mentally]."

Spieth, who feels he is making progress on issues he has had with the driver, insists he does not spend too much time worrying about whether he will join Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen in winning all four majors. 

He added: "Not much [time spent thinking], honestly. Certainly every PGA Championship week I understand [questions on the subject] is going to be the case, and I think I'd be the sixth person, which would be a pretty unique fraternity to be in there. 

"That would be a dream come true for me. But I also recognise that if I continue to stay healthy and play well, I'll have, I don't know, 30 chances at it. One of them is bound to go my way, right?

"Each major championship has its own identity, and so you've kind of, I guess, mastered golf, is kind of an easy way to say it, if you're able to complete a Grand Slam.

"I feel like I'm more patient in majors with letting courses come to me than I am at other tournaments, and I feel like this is a good time for me to test that out."

World number one Dustin Johnson feels ready to challenge for top honours at the US PGA Championship.

The year's second major gets underway in Farmingdale, New York on Thursday, with Johnson looking to add to his 2016 U.S. Open triumph.

Johnson has not played in a tournament since the RBC Heritage at the end of April – it was only his 11th PGA Tour event of the season.

So far, the American star has seven top-10 finishes, which includes a tie for second place at the Masters. 

Usually by the time Johnson is preparing for the PGA Championship, he has finished a long stretch of events like the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

But, with the PGA Championship moving from August to May at Bethpage Black, it could very well favour Johnson.

"I like the date. I like the change. I think it's good," Johnson told reporters on Tuesday. "It's definitely different for me, but obviously mentally I'm coming in here very fresh and focused and ready to go.

"Is the game probably as sharp as it is after four weeks of big tournaments? Probably not. But I feel like I'm swinging really well. I've felt like I've been swinging well all year."

In majors, Johnson has made the cut in six of his past seven tournaments. He was close to breaking his major drought at Augusta National after winning the 2016 U.S. Open, but came up a stroke shy of Tiger Woods.

However, this course could be the one that sees Johnson claim his second major title. 

At Bethpage Black, Johnson's best finishes came at The Northern Trust – formerly known as The Barclays – where he tied for 18th in 2016 and tied for third in 2012. 

"[I'm] a little frustrated sometimes just because I've had quite a few chances [to win a major] and I've felt like a few of them I really didn't do anything — I played well," Johnson said. "But that's just how it is. It's hard to win majors. If it was easy, a lot of guys would have a lot more than they do.

"But I feel good coming into this week, and I feel like this is a golf course where I've had success on, and I feel like I can play it well, especially in these conditions."

Rory McIlroy has said he is likely to represent Ireland at the 2020 Olympic Games, while Tiger Woods is also keen to participate in Tokyo.

Golf returned to the Olympic programme, after a 112-year absence, in Rio in 2016, but McIlroy was one of several leading players who opted not to play due to concerns over the Zika virus.

Asked about the Tokyo Games in a news conference at this week's US PGA Championship, McIlroy said: "I don't know. More likely than not I will play. I think it would be a great experience.

"It's just one of those things where it's just in the middle of a really busy stretch. But yeah, right now in my mind I'll most likely play."

Prior to his withdrawal from the Rio Olympics, McIlroy announced he would represent Ireland rather than Great Britain.

On Tuesday, he added: "I think as a young boy it was always my dream to play for Ireland. I wanted to play for Ireland. I was very proud to put on that shirt or that blazer.

"It's the same as like the rugby players, right? There's players that play for Ulster, but they want to play for Ireland. It's seen as a whole island sport, just like hockey is, just like most of the sports are.

"I had an unbelievable amateur career, and I don't mean that in terms of results, but I mean that in the experiences I had and the trips that I had and the friendships that I made and the friendships that I still have to this day. That was all because of playing for Ireland and getting close to some of those guys.

"I'm excited to be going to the Olympics. I'm excited to play for Ireland. It's going to be a great experience, and probably a little bit nostalgic because it'll bring me back to 15 years ago, whenever I was doing that with the same people. So it's going to be cool."

In an earlier news conference, resurgent Masters champion Woods said: "Would I like to play in the Olympics? Yes. I've never played in the Olympics, and I'm sure that I won't have many more opportunities going forward at 43 years old now to play in many Olympics.

"Yes, that would be a first for me and something that I would certainly welcome if I was part of the team.

"Getting there and making the team is going to be the tough part. How many events do I play, do I add a couple more to get in? These are all questions that will be answered going forward. I just know that if I play well in the big events like I did this year, things will take care of itself."

Rory McIlroy is confident his best years are still to come as he prepares to play his first major since turning 30.

McIlroy won four of golf's premier stroke play events before turning 26, but he has endured a barren period in majors since claiming the last of those titles at the 2014 US PGA Championship.

Ahead of this week's PGA Championship at Bethpage, McIlroy said: "I definitely don't feel 30. I mean, even just at the start of this press conference, [it was mentioned that] this is my 11th PGA Championship. It's like, where did those go?

"My body is as good as it has been in a couple of years, which I'm really grateful for. Every week that I tee it up, I feel like I'm gaining more experience that I can put into the next tournament and the next tournament.

"You know, I still believe my best days are ahead of me, for sure."

Five of McIlroy's 24 professional wins have come in May, so it is no surprise he is happy with the PGA being moved forward from its traditional August slot.

"I've had a pretty good record in May. I've won a few tournaments, and I was a pretty big fan of this date change," he stated.

The Northern Irishman is also very comfortable with this week's venue, even though Bethpage's Black Course is renowned as one of the most fearsome challenges in golf.

"I think it's fair," said McIlroy. "You get rewarded for good shots, and you get punished for bad ones.

"I feel sometimes at major championships courses are brought to the edge, and sometimes good shots are punished. Whether that's fair or not is up for debate, but I think it's a very fair golf course. I think the setup is very fair. I think Kerry Haigh [the PGA of America's Chief Championship Officer] is the best in the business at setting golf courses up. I've said that for a long time.

"And yeah, look, we all know what New York and Long Island is like. A Ryder Cup here is five years away, but I think they're planning on letting 60,000 in a day here this week, so it'll be pretty loud."

31 one golfers signed up for Monday's BMW Jamaica Classic qualifiers at Cinnamon Hill.  At the end of the day, only 10 would make it to Thursday's final.

Brooks Koepka believes he can claim 10 or more major titles and feels golf's biggest events are "sometimes the easiest ones to win" as he prepares to defend his US PGA Championship crown.

The U.S. Open champion of 2017 and 2018, Koepka also won last year's PGA at Bellerive and has developed a reputation for delivering his very best form when it matters most.

In a pre-tournament news conference at Bethpage on Tuesday, the 29-year-old American was asked if he had targeted a specific number of major wins in his career.

"Yeah, I've got a number," Koepka replied. "I don't see why you can't get to double digits.

"I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win. Half the people shoot themselves out of it, and mentally I know I can beat most of them, and then from there it's those guys left, who's going to play good and who can win. I don't see any reason it can't get to double digits."

Tiger Woods (15) is the only active golfer with more than five triumphs in majors.

"I kind of dummy it down and make it very simple, and I think that's what helps me," said Koepka as he explained the method that has helped him to three wins in quick succession.

Koepka will play the first two rounds at Bethpage alongside Open champion Francesco Molinari and a resurgent Woods, who famously won the Masters last month.

While the 43-year-old Woods beat Koepka into second place at Augusta, the roles were reversed at Bellerive last August.

Asked whether he felt like a rivalry was developing, Koepka said with a smile: "There's a little bit of an age difference there."

He added: "He's a little bit older. But I don't see it as a rivalry. I mean, it's just golf ... it's just really been the last couple [of] years.

"So I don't see it as a rivalry, although it is fun to play against him, the best player to ever play the game. You guys want to talk about rivalry, I think that's pretty cool to hear. It's exciting for me.

"But I'm just looking forward to this week, to playing with him. It'll be interesting. We haven't been paired together too much, especially over the last couple of years. He's been in the group in front or group behind. It'll definitely be interesting."

Tiger Woods made light of the news John Daly will be allowed to use a golf cart at the PGA Championship – noting he has won a major in worse condition.

Daly, 53, successfully applied to be able to use a cart this week at Bethpage Black as he continues to suffer with arthritis in his knee following a number of surgeries.

"My knee is screwed," he said, as quoted by the New York Post . "I had the meniscus cut out. I have osteoarthritis so bad… I can walk up a hill. I just can't walk down one."

The decision has not been met with a mixed response and Masters champion Woods took it as an opportunity to recall his 2008 U.S. Open victory, where he incredibly prevailed in an 18-hole play-off against Rocco Mediate despite being hindered by knee ligament damage and a fractured leg.

"As far as J.D. taking a cart, well, I walked with a broken leg, so…" he said at a news conference on Tuesday.

Six-time major winner Nick Faldo was among the dissenting voices around 1000-1 shot Daly.

"Personally I think walking is a physical part of being a professional golfer," he said, as quoted by the Post. "The physical element of walking and being able to do that. I'd keep it as simple as that."

Tiger Woods is delighted to be "part of the narrative" again as he looks to make it back-to-back major wins at the US PGA Championship.

Woods ended an 11-year wait for his 15th victory in one of golf's signature events when he prevailed at an emotionally charged Augusta in April.

He is the bookmakers' favourite to win the PGA Championship this week at Bethpage Black in Long Island and is thriving under renewed expectations at this stage of his career.

"It's great to be part of the narrative. My narrative spans 20 years now, just over 20 years," Woods said at a news conference on Tuesday.

"And if you look at most of the players, of the players that have had the most success on tour, you're not measured by, like an NFL football player where you get in the hall of fame after nine years. If you play out here only nine years you haven't really done that well. You're measured in decades.

"Arnold Palmer played in 50 straight Masters, you know. It's just done differently and because of the nature of the sport we're able to hang around a lot longer and still be relevant.

"The neat thing about this championship here is when Jack [Nicklaus] played in his last PGA Championship in 2000, I played with him. He said he played with Gene Sarazen in his final PGA and so the fact that golf can span nearly 60, 70 years in playing careers, that's what makes it so special."

Alongside Woods' 15 major triumphs, he has 81 PGA Tour victories. Only Nicklaus in majors (18) and Sam Snead in wins (82) have more.

Only once has he followed Masters glory by winning the subsequent major, although that feat was achieved at Bethpage when he triumphed in the 2002 U.S. Open.

The 43-year-old has not played a competitive round since his Masters win, something he attributed to needing to take a mental break.

"I wanted to play a couple of weeks ago, but I just wasn't quite mentally ready to do it," he said. "But physically I've been feeling really good.

"Training sessions have been good, I've been doing a lot of practicing of late, not in sweaters, so this is a little bit different. I'm excited to get out there on the golf course."

Woods will tee off on Thursday at 8:24am ET (1:24pm BST) alongside the defending PGA champion Brooks Koepka and reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari.

Justin Thomas has withdrawn from this week's US PGA Championship with a wrist injury.

The world number five damaged his wrist and shoulder when he struck a tree while trying to hit a shot at the Honda Classic in March.

Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, on Monday revealed that he is not ready to compete in the second major of the year.

"Unfortunately, I will be withdrawing from the 101st PGA Championship at Bethpage Black this week as my wrist is not yet fully healed," Thomas tweeted. 

"Obviously, as a past champion, this tournament is extra special to me. It consistently has the strongest field in golf and I'm disappointed to not be among those competing this year, but I'm optimistic about a return in the near future."

Kelly Kraft will replace the 26-year-old. 

The tournament gets under way at Bethpage Black on Long Island in Farmingdale, New York on Thursday.

Golf fans can be forgiven for feeling a little out of kilter this week as the US PGA Championship moves from its familiar August slot to a new May date.

Tiger Woods' stunning triumph at the Masters last month made headlines the world over and he is sure to be firmly under the spotlight at the second major of 2019.

It has been 12 years since the now 15-time major-winner last lifted the Wanamaker Trophy, but the 43-year-old will be many people's favourite as a star-studded field battles for supremacy at Bethpage Black.

Ahead of an action-packed week in New York, we have scrutinised the best facts with the help of Opta.

 

Tiger Woods

- If Woods were to win at Bethpage Black, he would set the second-longest gap between two US PGA Championship successes (12 years) after Raymond Floyd (13 years, 1969 and 1982).

- Woods will look to become only the second player since World War II to win the first two majors of the year on two separate occasions, having previously done so in 2002. The only player to have accomplished the feat to date is Ben Hogan in 1951 and 1953.

- Tiger is 32 under par over the last three major tournaments, the best cumulative score anyone has managed in that period. Francesco Molinari is second on 29 under.

- With his win at Augusta in April, Woods now holds 15 majors - 10 more than any other current active golfer (Mickelson, five).

 

The tournament

- This is the 101st US PGA Championship – it is being held in May for the first time since 1949, when the tournament was a match play format.

- Each of the past six majors held on US soil have produced American winners, the longest run since 1987.

- No player can boast more than the five victories achieved by Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus, with Woods the nearest challenger on four.

- Brooks Koepka will go for back-to-back victories. No player has achieved the feat since Tiger Woods in 2006 and 2007.

- Koepka has triumphed in three of the past seven major tournaments, while he has made the cut in 19 straight major appearances and recorded top-10s in 50 per cent of his outings in golf's big four since the start of 2014.

- If Jordan Spieth wins the US PGA, he will become only the sixth player to complete the Grand Slam.

- Four of the last five US PGA Championships have been won by a player who was leading going into the final round. Justin Thomas was two shots back after three rounds in 2017.

- Rory McIlroy has failed to make the top 10 in any of his last four appearances at the US PGA Championship, this after doing so in five of his first six appearances, including two victories. His first ever top 10 in a major was at the 2009 U.S. Open at Bethpage.


Bethpage Black

- Bethpage Black is hosting its third major tournament. The two previous majors held on the Long Island course were U.S. Opens, won by Woods in 2002 and Lucas Glover in 2009.

- Three players have finished in the top 10 on each of the two occasions a major has been held at Bethpage Black. Woods, Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia. Mickelson finished second both times.

- Only six players were under par at the end of the two previous majors held at Bethpage Black: one in the 2002 U.S. Open, five in the 2009 U.S. Open.
 

When Rory McIlroy won four majors in a little over three years, talk of his ascent to greatness was as inevitable as it was premature.

But in a sport where longevity means still playing well into your forties, and even beyond, you cannot be said to have scaled that particular mountain when you are 25, as McIlroy was when he last won a major.

That was the 2014 US PGA Championship and it came hot on the heels of his triumph at The Open.

That was when a new era appeared to be dawning in the world of golf, a post-Tiger age in which McIlroy was to be the star of the show.

In the five years since then, McIlroy has not added to his tally as he heads back to the US PGA. If 2014 did indeed mark the start of a new era, it cannot by any logical measure be described as McIlroy's.

Since then, Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka have claimed three majors apiece and Woods has returned to the winner's circle, adding a fifth Masters title to his collection in April.

Woods stands as the ultimate benchmark for greatness in the modern game, but in some ways he also serves as a cautionary tale for McIlroy, who turned 30 this month.

For Woods, that was the decade in which his decline – considered as terminal by some until a remarkable revival capped by his Augusta heroics – set in.

Injuries and personal issues took their toll, meaning Woods' thirties, when many golfers reach their peak, were largely squandered.

He was 32 when major number 14 arrived at the 2008 U.S. Open, but his latest green jacket ended an 11-year barren spell. If McIlroy does not win one of the three remaining headline events this year, he will be halfway to equalling that winless streak.

McIlroy's Valhalla victory in the 96th US PGA Championship gave life to the idea that he was destined to fulfil his immense promise and ultimately take his place among the sport's legends.

But as the years have ticked by, that goal has only seemed to slip further from his reach. McIlroy is doubtless very good, but is he great?

The Grand Slam remains elusive, he has not been year-end world number one since 2015, and there seems to be a lack of killer instinct when it comes to the crunch in major championships.

Bethpage will be a tough place for McIlroy to address his major jitters, but it would be the perfect time to do it.

While life may not begin at 30 for McIlroy, the path to sporting immortality might.

Do not be surprised if birdies prove hard to come by at this week's US PGA Championship.

The second major of 2019 is being held at the Bethpage Black Course on Long Island in New York, a venue renowned for its fearsome difficulty.

In fact, a sign in front of the first tee at Bethpage pretty much tells you all you need to know.

It reads: "-WARNING- The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend only for highly skilled golfers."

On the previous two occasions Bethpage played host to a major, when the U.S. Open was held there in 2002 and 2009, the respective scores of winners Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover were three and four under par.

Woods was the only man to break par in 2002, while just five players managed the same feat a decade ago and a three-over 73 in the final round proved enough to secure a shock success for Glover.

It is quite possible the PGA of America – this week's organisers – will opt for a slightly more generous set-up than the USGA, who are responsible for putting on the U.S. Open, while the previous two majors at the Black Course were also made more challenging by inclement weather.

However, there appears to be little doubt a star-studded field – set to contain all of the world's top 100 in a first for a major – will face a stern challenge. When the same venue hosted The Barclays in 2012 and 2016, the winning scores of Nick Watney and Patrick Reed were 10 and nine under.

Accuracy off the tee will certainly be paramount, with so much trouble lurking in the form of bunkers and thick rough.

Bethpage is also a whopping 7,459 yards, despite being a par 70, with six of its par-four holes measuring more than 450 yards. Two of them, the seventh and 12th, are 524 and 515 yards respectively.

Six of the last seven winners of the PGA have finished double digits under par and Brooks Koepka triumphed with a score of 16 under at Bellerive last August.

If anyone makes it to 10 under or better at Bethpage, it is likely they will have the honour of lifting the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. 

After almost 11 years without a major triumph, Tiger Woods will seek a second in succession at this week's US PGA Championship.

Woods completed an extraordinary return from career-threatening injuries at Augusta last month, winning the Masters to claim his 15th victory in one of golf's premier strokeplay events.

The former world number one is now just three short of Jack Nicklaus' record haul of 18 majors.

Two of Omnisport's golf experts share their thoughts on whether Tiger can catch Jack.

 

The aura is back, if anyone can do this, Tiger can – Peter Hanson

If this question had been posed to me a year ago, I would have needed helping back to my feet after falling off my chair laughing. But the circumstances could hardly be more different now.

Tiger, beaten down by a series of agonising back injuries, himself admitted in late 2017 that he did not know if he would play again, let alone compete at the elite level of golf. This is no ordinary player we are talking about, though.

The statistics detailing his years of dominance make for remarkable reading. Even now there are times you have to double take to make sure what you are fact checking is correct.

Reeling in, and then overtaking, Nicklaus would have been a task much more achievable had Tiger converted challenges at last year's Open and US PGA Championship into victories.

Yet that inimitable aura is undoubtedly back. So are the club twirls, the exquisite wedges, the cocksure body language of a serial winner.

At 43, time is running out for Woods and even a player of Tiger's extraordinary talent cannot compete at the top level forever.

The competition is stronger than ever but if any player is capable of doing something to boggle the mind of even his most ardent supporter, it is Tiger Woods. He can win 18 majors and more.

 

It's too late now, Tiger – Russell Greaves

Golf is a sport that affords its legends a little more time to grace the stage, and not merely as bit-part players.

Well into their 30s, and in some notable cases their 40s, players can enjoy starring roles at major championships.

But when those in the latter age bracket do win one of the four headline events, it invariably proves to be their swansong.

Nicklaus was 46 when his 18th arrived and, though he flirted with more Masters glory after that Augusta triumph, he was essentially a spent force in that regard.

Gary Player managed to claim a green jacket at the age of 42, and Lee Trevino a PGA Championship title at 44.

But there is no trend of players winning multiple majors in their twilight years in the modern era. Every year from 40 onwards, it just gets tougher.

Tiger will face the same challenges as his predecessors when it comes to confronting his advancing years – an aging body, a talented new crop awaiting their turn, and the growing sense that time will prove his greatest enemy.

The debate about whether Tiger would surpass Nicklaus has been decided precisely because it has taken Woods 11 years just to add just one more to his tally. He will not get another four before the clock runs down.

Tiger Woods will doubtless be the centre of attention at the US PGA Championship, following his remarkable triumph at the Masters last month.

Ahead of the second major of 2019, which takes place at Bethpage's fearsome Black Course, we take a look at Tiger's record in the PGA, focusing on the stand-out tournaments that occurred 10 and 20 years ago respectively.

 

1997: T29

1998: T10

1999: 1  - Tiger's first PGA success came at Medinah 20 years ago, as he edged out a teenage Sergio Garcia. Woods, seeking a second major title after his success at the 1997 Masters, shared the lead with Mike Weir heading into the final round and looked to have the tournament wrapped up at the turn, only to wobble down the stretch. However, despite dropping four shots over the final seven holes, Woods did just enough to pip Garcia by a single stroke with a winning score of 11 under. He went on to finish fifth at the following year's Masters, but then stunningly won each of the next four majors, including the 2000 PGA.

2000: 1

2001: T29

2002: 2

2003: T39

2004: T24

2005: T4

2006: 1

2007: 1

2008: Did Not Play

2009: 2 - By the time the 2009 PGA rolled around, Woods was a 14-time major champion and widely expected to overhaul Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 wins in golf's premier strokeplay events. Major number 15 appeared a certainty when he opened up a four-shot advantage through 36 holes at Hazeltine and remained two clear going into the final round. Tiger had never failed to win a major when leading with 18 to play, but that record was broken in sensational fashion by Y.E. Yang. The unheralded South Korean capitalised on a strangely poor display from Woods and captured first place on the back nine. Under immense pressure as he came down the last ahead by one, Yang then produced a truly magnificent approach to the 18th green to seal victory. At that time, few could have imagined Woods would have to wait almost 10 years to taste major success again.

2010: T28

2011: Missed Cut

2012: T11

2013: T40

2014: MC

2015: MC

2016: DNP

2017: DNP

2018: 2

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.