It may not be quite what we are used to but major golf is finally back as Brooks Koepka defends his US PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in California this week.

The global coronavirus pandemic completely wiped out The Open Championship for 2020, while each of the other three majors had to be rescheduled.

A three-month enforced break of the PGA Tour perhaps came at an opportune moment for some, while halting the momentum of others.

As golf gears up for its first major of 2020, behind closed doors of course, we take a look at the players we expect to be competing in California.


WEBB SIMPSON

It has been some return to form over the past couple of years for 2012 U.S. Open victor Webb Simpson, who slipped as low as 90th in the rankings following the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship before his triumph at the Players Championship a couple of years ago kick-started a career that looked in danger of stagnating. Even more promisingly, Simpson has wins either side of lockdown at the Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage. Throw in top-10s at the Sony Open and Rocket Mortgage Classic and he certainly has the form to contend.

JUSTIN THOMAS

Since winning the 2017 PGA Championship, it has not quite happened in the majors for Justin Thomas, whose only other top-10 in golf's big four since came at the same tournament a year later. But this guy is a serial contender on Tour and has four wins to his name in the past year, the most recent of course coming at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday. Thomas is now back at world number one thanks to his triumph in Memphis and has three other top-10s since golf's hiatus was lifted so do not be surprised to see him in contention come Sunday.

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU

He is a man who splits opinion but one thing that cannot be argued is how supremely talented Bryson DeChambeau is. After bulking up during lockdown, he now appears to have even more weapons to his arsenal. Prior to missing the cut at the Memorial, DeChambeau made eight top-10s in nine starts, which included a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He has the game to win a major.

COLLIN MORIKAWA

A name perhaps not too familiar with the casual golf fan, but since turning pro in 2019 Collin Morikawa has climbed from 1039th in the world to 12th. After finishing second at the season-restarting Charles Schwab, he won the Workday Charity Open by beating Thomas in a play-off. His other results have admittedly been mixed but for those who like an outside bet the 23-year-old may take your fancy.

JON RAHM

Admittedly, tipping the man who was world number one until Thomas' win at the weekend to be a contender does not exactly scream imagination. But the talented Spaniard was not exactly in peak form prior to winning the Memorial last month, which crowned his ascension to the top of the rankings. Prior to that he had gone CUT, T33, T37, T27 at his four previous events post-lockdown. But surely Jon Rahm will eventually break his major duck and this weekend can be the time.

KOEPKA, RORY, WOODS AND THE USUAL SUSPECTS

Some players you just expect to see involved at the majors. Koepka is aiming to be the first man in 64 years to win the same major three years running and showed plenty of promise in Memphis over the weekend, where he finished runner-up to Thomas. Rory McIlroy has lost his number one status after struggling to rediscover his excellent form prior to golf's suspension but the Northern Irishman has previous at Harding Park, where he won the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play. Tiger Woods really has not played enough golf in 2020 to judge where his form and fitness is at – he has played just once since the season restarted – but never, ever write off the 15-time major winner. Dustin Johnson's form has been a little erratic, though he did win the Travelers Championship at the end of June.

Brooks Koepka said his game was just where he wanted it to be ahead of the US PGA Championship.

Koepka fell short in his title defence at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, finishing in a four-way tie for second three shots behind champion Justin Thomas.

It marked the American's best result of the year and just his second top-10 finish in 11 events.

That has left Koepka optimistic ahead of the US PGA Championship, where he will be aiming for a third straight success starting on Thursday.

"I feel good. I feel like my game is right there, this is where we wanted to be, peaking for the PGA," he told Golf Channel.

"I feel like my game is right there, everything's solid, I hit a lot of good putts today, just didn't go in. I'm pleased with it."

Koepka said he was pleased with his improvement ahead of the first major of the year.

"I feel like I'm playing good so I'm excited to tee it up," he said.

"Everything's moving in the right direction so, once you know you lose, it doesn't matter if you lose by one or 10, it doesn't matter so, pleased with it, moving in the right direction and looking forward to next week."

Justin Thomas held off a threat from defending champion Brooks Koepka to win the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and claim the number one ranking.

Thomas carded a five-under-par 65 in Sunday's final round to soar to the top of the leaderboard and he stayed there for his third title of the season – the most on the PGA Tour.

Former world number one and 2018 champion Thomas was four shots off the pace when he teed off on day four at TPC Southwind, where Brendon Todd was the player to beat overnight in Memphis, Tennessee.

But Todd could only manage a fourth-round 75 and a share of 15th as Thomas – fuelled by a flawless front nine – used six birdies and a solitary bogey to clinch his 13th career crown at 13 under.

The result means Jon Rahm's brief stint atop the world golf rankings is over, with the Spaniard (66) replaced by Thomas after languishing in a tie for 52nd ahead of the US PGA Championship, which starts in San Francisco on Thursday.

Koepka – eyeing back-to-back successes at the tournament – was within one stroke of the lead but the four-time major champion double-bogeyed the last to sign for a 69, having also bogeyed the 16th.

The US PGA Championship holder ended the World Golf Championships event tied for second alongside Phil Mickelson (67), Daniel Berger (65) and Tom Lewis (66).

Xander Schauffele (66), Jason Day (67), Shane Lowry (67), Chez Reavie (68), Louis Oosthuizen (68) and Matt Fitzpatrick (68) finished four strokes behind Thomas, while Dustin Johnson (67), Webb Simpson (68) and Byeong Hun An (73) were a shut further back.

It was another tough outing for Jordan Spieth – the three-time major winner still searching for his first top-10 performance since the Charles Schwab Challenge.

A final-round 71, consisting of two double bogeys, two bogeys and five birdies, saw Spieth slide to four under and nine strokes adrift.

Another former world number one, Rory McIlroy, did not fare much better after finishing tied for 47th following his three-under-par 67.

Brendon Todd will take a one-shot lead from Byeong Hun An into the final round of a stacked WGC-FedEX St. Jude Invitational, with Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas in the hunt.

Scores of 64 and 65 over the first two rounds saw Todd lead the way by two shots at the halfway stage but a mixed one-under 69 on Saturday left him at 12 under for the tournament and allowed the chasing pack to close in.

Todd, who won back-to-back titles in November after a five-year trophy drought, was one under through the first nine and stayed that way after mixing three birdies with as many bogeys on the way home.

Byeong made double bogey at the par-three 11th to fall back to level par for his round but a streak of four birdies from the 13th to the 16th saw him sign for a 66 and left him just a shot back.

Fowler was flying after going out in 32, only for bogeys at the 12th and 17th to check his progress and leave him at two back on 10 under.

Koepka toiled early in his round as a double bogey at the second and another dropped shot at six saw him fighting to remain among the leaders.

But in typical fashion, defending champion Koepka made six birdies from the ninth to the 16th hole.

A bogey at 17 derailed his momentum slightly but at three shots back Koepka is well in contention heading in Sunday.

Thomas' 66 means he is four shots back, the former world number one going four under on the back nine – including three straight birdies from the 15th to the 17th.

Phil Mickelson, Matt Fitzpatrick, Louis Oosthuizen and Chez Reavie are all five shots back.

Brooks Koepka lamented his putting after struggling to a one-over 71 at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Friday.

The overnight leader dropped to a tie for third, four shots adrift of Brendon Todd (65) at the halfway mark of the PGA Tour event in Memphis.

Koepka rued his performance with the putter in the second round, in which he mixed three birdies with two bogeys and a double bogey.

"I just putted bad. It wasn't really anything other than that. Felt stress-free other than just missing some short ones," the American defending champion said.

"On the back nine they felt good, they were just missing, and on the front they just weren't good putts."

Koepka added: "I felt like I did everything we were trying to do, just wasn't working, wasn't seeing the line.

"Even yesterday I said I didn't feel quite comfortable over anything inside five feet and today it just felt kind of the same."

Koepka is tied for third with Chez Reavie and Byeong Hun An, two shots behind Rickie Fowler and four adrift of Todd.

Brendon Todd held a two-shot lead heading into the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after defending champion Brooks Koepka faltered following a stunning opening round.

Play for round two was brought forward and the field went out in threes on Friday due to the threat of inclement weather in Memphis, and Todd led the way through 36 holes at 11 under after shooting a fine bogey-free 65.

Todd, who won back-to-back tournaments in November after a five-year trophy drought, picked up two shots on the way out and three more on the way home – sinking brilliant birdie putts at the 14th and 15th.

Koepka, who will defend his US PGA Championship next week, had started this tournament with a 62 to match his career-low score on the PGA Tour.

The former world number one started round two on the back nine and was ticking along nicely as birdies at his second and ninth hole moved him to 10 under.

But a double bogey immediately after the turn coupled with two more dropped shots either side of a birdie at the sixth – his 15th – saw him sign for a one-over 71, leaving him four back of Todd.

Rickie Fowler finished birdie-birdie to get within two of Todd after a 67 on Friday, with An Byeong-hun and Chez Reavie in a tie for third with Koepka.

Rory McIlroy recovered from an opening-round 73 with a four-under 66 but stood 10 shots off the pace, while world number one Jon Rahm was four over and Justin Thomas (-4) and Dustin Johnson (-3) each had significant ground to make up.

Brooks Koepka was pleased to see his hard work rewarded during the first round of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The American made a dream start to his title defence in Memphis, matching a career-low with an eight-under 62 in the first round to hold a two-stroke lead.

Koepka, who had missed cuts in two of his previous three tournaments, said his performance was thanks to the work he had put in.

"It's all what's gone on behind the scenes," the four-time major champion told a news conference.

"I do feel comfortable at this place, I like it, but at the same time, it's the first time I feel like I know where my misses are, I know when the club's in the correct spot, I know when the putting stroke's nice.

"It's all just the work we've put in over the last three weeks of countless hours of beating balls and on the putting green."

Koepka has one top-10 finish in 10 starts this year, but the world number six was happy with his improvement on Thursday.

"I played good, I drove it well, putted well, chipped it well, did everything very solid, missed in the correct spots," he said.

"I never really felt like I was having to work too hard out there so that's a little different than it has been, but I guess that's why we put in all the work."

Brooks Koepka made a dream start to his title defence at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational after matching his career-low round on the PGA Tour.

Koepka carded an eight-under-par 62 for a two-stroke lead following the opening round of the World Golf Championships event in Memphis on Thursday.

The four-time major champion – who has missed two cuts in his past three outings heading to TPC Southwind – was almost flawless at the PGA and European Tour tournament.

Koepka, troubled by a knee injury that has led to just one top-10 finish in 10 tournaments this year, raced out of the blocks with four consecutive birdies before closing out the front nine with back-to-back gains after dropping the seventh.

The American star was bogey free after the turn, birdieing the 11th, 13th and 16th holes to top the leaderboard ahead of countrymen Rickie Fowler and Brendon Todd.

Kang Sung-hoon is outright fourth on five under, a shot ahead of 2018 champion Justin Thomas, Matt Kuchar, Chez Reavie and Max Homa, while the likes of Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia are three under through 18 holes.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth endured a mixed round, posting a double bogey, two bogeys and six birdies for a two-under-par 68 – a score matched by players such as Jason Day, Bubba Watson and Xander Schauffele.

Dustin Johnson, the 2016 winner who withdrew from last week's 3M Open, signed for a first-round 69 to be a shot better off than world number one Jon Rahm.

Rahm dethroned Rory McIlroy as the world's top-ranked golfer after winning the Memorial Tournament earlier this month and the Spanish star opened his Memphis campaign with four bogeys and four birdies.

He performed a lot better than McIlroy, who carded a three-over-par 73 to leave himself with plenty of work to do heading into Friday's second round.

Brooks Koepka believes he will turn his form around despite still being troubled by a knee injury.

Koepka, the world number six, has missed two cuts in his past three events heading into the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational.

The four-time major champion is confident he can recapture his best form, having recorded just one top-10 finish in 10 events this year.

"It's definitely been frustrating. It will test you mentally, but at the same time, I'm looking at it as a challenge and something where I know it will turn around eventually. It's going to turn around," Koepka told a news conference.

"You don't work that hard for nothing. Starting to see signs of it. Now it's just about going and doing it.

"Whether it be this week, next week, a month from now, two months from now, whatever it's going to be, it will pay off."

Koepka suffered a torn patella tendon in his knee last year and is still being bothered by the injury.

The American said he would finish the season before considering his options.

"The tear has to be worse to go under the knife, but we'll see how it goes," Koepka said.

"We'll see when my season ends and go get stem cell again most likely and figure it out from there."

Michael Thompson and Richy Werenski share the lead at the halfway mark of the 3M Open, while Brooks Koepka missed the cut.

Thompson carded a five-under 66 on Friday to be tied for the lead with Werenski (67) at 12 under at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota.

Tony Finau (66) and Talor Gooch (65) are tied for third a shot back of the leaders.

Coming off an eighth-place finish at the Memorial Tournament, Finau made an eagle, four birdies and a bogey.

The American produced some magic for his eagle, holing out from 81 yards at the par-five sixth hole.

Koepka, meanwhile, missed the cut for the second time in three tournaments.

The world number six fired an even-par 71 to finish at one under, missing the weekend by a shot.

Koepka has just one top-10 finish in five tournaments since the PGA Tour season resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic.

China's Zhang Xinjun (67) is outright fifth at 10 under, a shot ahead of defending champion Matthew Wolff (68) and Australian Cameron Davis (66).

Bo Van Pelt (68), Charl Schwartzel (68), Patrick Rodgers (68) and Nick Watney (69) are at eight under.

Richy Werenski fired an eight-under 63 to lead the 3M Open, while Brooks Koepka was unable to get going in the first round on Thursday.

Werenski grabbed a one-stroke lead at TPC Twin Cities in Blaine, Minnesota, after an impressive opening round.

The American made nine birdies and a bogey, with his only blemish coming at the par-four third hole.

Werenski is a shot clear of Michael Thompson, who managed a bogey-free 64.

Koepka, who has one top-10 finish in four events since the PGA Tour season restarted, again battled.

The world number six and four-time major champion carded a one-under 70 to be tied for 57th.

Former world number one Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, withdrew from the tournament, citing a back injury, after shooting a 78.

After challenging at the Memorial Tournament, Tony Finau again made a bright start with a six-under 65.

Finau shares third place with Ryan Moore, Zhang Xinjun, Nick Watney, Matthew Wolff, Max Homa and Bo Hoag.

Wolff, the defending champion, made four birdies on his final eight holes to make a strong start to his title defence.

A group of 10 players are tied for 10th at five under, including South African Charl Schwartzel.

Also in that group is Bo Van Pelt, who produced one of the shots of the day with an ace at the eighth hole.

Ryan Palmer and Tony Finau are tied for the lead at the halfway stage of the Memorial Tournament, where 15-time major champion Tiger Woods narrowly made the cut.

Palmer carded a four-under-par 68 to join fellow American Finau in a share of the one-stroke lead following Friday's second round in Dublin, Ohio.

Finau was the outright leader when day two started, but a second-round 69 saw him head into the weekend with company at nine under through 36 holes at Muirfield Village.

Spanish star Jon Rahm is a shot off the pace after a five-under-par 67, while Gary Woodland (70), Chez Reavie (67) and Luke List (68) are tied for fourth at six under.

After opening with a 73, former world number one Jason Day posted a 66 to catapult himself into outright seventh position – four shots behind Palmer and Finau.

Back-to-back 70s has Jordan Spieth four under at the halfway point, one stroke ahead of another American star – Justin Thomas, who used a five-under-par 67 to climb 43 positions into a tie for 16th.

World number one Rory McIlroy's struggles continued after an even-par 72 saw him slip seven shots off the pace.

McIlroy is yet to finish in the top 10 of a PGA Tour tournament since golf resumed in June amid the coronavirus pandemic, and a double bogey and four bogeys left the Northern Irishman tied for 21st.

As for Woods, the American superstar barely survived to prolong his PGA comeback into the weekend on Friday.

Woods – in action for the first time since February – made a decent start but his second round was far more concerning amid back problems.

The 44-year-old, who opened the event with a 71, signed for a four-over-par 76 to close the day three over, just one stroke above the cut line.

Three bogeys from his first nine holes left Woods in trouble, but the five-time Memorial Tournament winner rallied after the turn by birdieing two of his final three holes.

While the likes of Brooks Koepka (75), Patrick Reed (76) and Phil Mickelson (74) managed to make the cut, Rickie Fowler (68), Justin Rose (76) and Bryson DeChambeau (76) failed to qualify for the weekend.

Collin Morikawa opened up a three-stroke lead at the Workday Charity Open, while Jordan Spieth is likely to miss the cut as the second round was suspended.

Morikawa continued his consistent start at Muirfield Village on Friday, carding a six-under 66 to get to 13 under.

But dangerous weather meant the second round was delayed twice before being suspended due to darkness.

Morikawa is three shots clear of fellow Americans Kevin Streelman (64) and Justin Thomas (66).

After an opening-round 65, Morikawa struggled on his front nine before making six birdies on his final eight holes.

Streelman holed nine birdies during his impressive round, while Thomas is in contention after a bogey-free round.

There were 33 players unable to complete their second rounds, with Rory Sabbatini – who is at eight under and through 17 – the best-placed of those, sitting in a tie for sixth.

Spieth, a three-time major champion, is in danger of missing the cut after a second straight even-par 72, with the projected cut at two under.

Brooks Koepka is also set to miss the cut, the world number six shooting a 69 to be at one under.

Sitting a shot behind Streelman and Thomas in a tie for fourth are Hideki Matsuyama (68) and Sam Burns (66), while Viktor Hovland (67) is at eight under alongside Sabbatini.

Englishman Ian Poulter (69) and Chase Seiffert (69) are at seven under.

Collin Morikawa edged into a one-stroke lead at the Workday Charity Open, while Jordan Spieth struggled during the opening round on Thursday.

Morikawa carded a seven-under 65 at Muirfield Village to hold a narrow advantage over Adam Hadwin.

A one-time PGA Tour winner, Morikawa made an eagle and six birdies before dropping a shot at the last hole.

After a top-10 finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge, former world number one Spieth has struggled in two events since and opened with an even-par 72.

The three-time major champion was three over through 13 holes before a birdie at 14 and an eagle at the par-five 15th saw him sit in a tie for 64th.

Hideki Matsuyama, Zach Johnson, Nick Taylor and Aaron Wise made brighter starts, shooting five-under 67s to be tied for third.

Justin Thomas, the world number five, is a shot further back in a group of 11 players who carded 68s.

Thomas recorded top-10 finishes at the Charles Schwab Challenge and RBC Heritage before missing the cut at the Travelers Championship, but the American is back in contention.

Pat Perez, Louis Oosthuizen, Tim Wilkinson, Peter Malnati, Patrick Reed, Ian Poulter, Adam Long, Graeme McDowell, Roger Sloan and Chase Seiffert are alongside Thomas at four under.

Brooks Koepka, meanwhile, battled to a two-over 74.

Brooks Koepka is one of five players to withdraw from the Travelers Championship, although the tournament will continue despite three positive coronavirus tests. 

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan updated the media on Wednesday after Cameron Champ, Graeme McDowell's caddie Ken Comboy and Koepka's caddie Ricky Elliott returned positive tests for COVID-19. 

The Tour returned at the Charles Schwab Challenge earlier in June, but Nick Watney became the first confirmed case since the restart at the RBC Heritage last week. 

Monahan confirmed the news of the latest positive tests and a series of withdrawals, yet the Travelers will go ahead as planned. 

Champ, McDowell and Koepka were joined by Webb Simpson and Chase Koepka - Brooks' brother - in withdrawing. 

"We have been working since March to develop a comprehensive health and safety plan that would be considered a best practice among professional sports leagues," Monahan said. 

"While we've been thorough in building an implementing a programme that mitigates as much risk as possible, we knew it would be impossible to eliminate all risk, as evidenced by the three positive tests this week. 

"We need to use these developments as a stark reminder for everyone involved as we continue to learn from an operational standpoint." 

Four-time major champion Brooks Koepka said: "I haven't tested positive for COVID-19 but, as I've said all along, I'm taking this very seriously. 

"I don't want to do anything that might jeopardise the health of any player in the field or his ability to compete. 

"I was planning to take the next two weeks off anyway, so the right thing to do right now is get home, support Ricky and feel confident that I'm doing what I can do protecting my fellow Tour members, my PGA Tour friends and everyone associated with the Travelers Championship this week." 

Commissioner Monahan added: "Rest assured that the PGA Tour will always do the right thing as it relates to our players, our fans, our constituents and make sure that we create the safest environment possible. 

"We are looking forward to reintroducing fans the week of Memorial Tournament, but rest assured we're only going to do it if we think it's a health and safe environment for our players, caddies, our staff and also the fans that would be attending." 

Page 1 of 4
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.