Jon Rahm birdied his final two holes to outlast Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke for U.S. Open victory and his first major title.

Oosthuizen was in a three-way share of the lead heading into the deciding round and opened up a one-shot lead on a gripping final day at Torrey Pines.

But Rahm rallied in San Diego, where the emotional Spanish star dramatically birdied the 17th and 18th holes to claim a lead he never relinquished on Sunday.

Rahm signed for a four-under-par 67 to finish six under through 72 holes as 2010 Open Championship winner Oosthuizen (71) settled for a runners-up cheque.

At the scene of his maiden PGA Tour win – the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open – Rahm became the fourth player from Spain to win a major and first at the U.S. Open.

Rahm, who was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament when leading by six shots after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this month, said post-round: "I'm a big believer in karma. After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive, knowing big things were coming.

"I didn't know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place, I know I got my breakthrough win here, and it's a very special place for my family. The fact my parents were able to come, I got out of COVID protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning.

"I can't even believe I made the first two putts! This was definitely for Seve [Ballesteros]. I know he tried a lot, and wanted to win this one most of all. I just don't know how to explain it! I don't know why, but every time we land here, we are happy. We’re in our spot!"

Oosthuizen was initially circumspect on day four, going one over through eight holes to leave the South African one shot behind defending champion Bryson DeChambeau – who came agonisingly close to a sensational hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.

But DeChambeau was unable to maintain his hot start, finishing with a forgettable six-over-par 77 to end the event eight shots off the pace.

Oosthuizen also failed to keep Rahm at bay – dropped shots at the 11th and 17th holes, paving the way for the red-hot Spanish golfer to emerge triumphant for the first time at a major.

Harris English (68) finished solo third, a stroke better off than Guido Migliozzi (68), two-time U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (69) and Collin Morikawa (70) as former world number one Rory McIlroy's final-round 73 resulted in a share of seventh spot at one under.

World number one Dustin Johnson (74) and fellow stars Jordan Spieth (72) Justin Thomas (73), Patrick Reed (67) and Sergio Garcia (68) closed out the event tied for 19th.

Richard Bland upstaged a star-studded field to earn a share of the U.S. Open lead at the halfway stage as defending champion Bryson DeChambeau soared up the leaderboard.

Unheralded Englishman Bland, 48, powered to the top of the summit at Torrey Pines thanks to his four-under-par 67 in San Diego, where he continues to prove patience pays off.

Alongside Russell Henley (70) for the one-stroke lead after two rounds, Bland is benefitting from perseverance, having gone almost 20 years without a European Tour title.

At the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, Bland claimed an emotional win at the British Masters, which earned him a place in his fourth major championship.

Bland – who missed the cut at his one previous U.S. Open appearance in 2009 – dazzled on day two of this year's tournament, storming into the clubhouse lead before being joined by American Henley.

After opening with a 70, Bland holed seven birdies and three bogeys to catapult himself to the top of the standings, before Henley teed off in his second round, amid his improbable dream of clinching a major.

"I feel good about my game," said three-time PGA Tour champion Henley, whose previous best performance at a major came via an 11th-place finish at the 2017 Masters.

"I've never been in this position before in a major. Just feel like I'm going to learn something no matter what happens."

Louis Oosthuizen (71), who was the overnight co-leader along with Henley, ended day two in a tie for third position alongside Matthew Wolff (68), while Bubba Watson (67) and Jon Rahm (70) are a shot further back at three under through 36 holes.

DeChambeau boosted his hopes of back-to-back U.S. Open titles, though the big-hitting American star remains five strokes off the pace heading into the weekend.

A two-under-par 69 saw DeChambeau move to even par as he rose 47 positions into a tie for 13th alongside rival and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69), Collin Morikawa (67), Harris English (70), Branden Grace (70), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) and Adam Hadwin (72).

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies, while Rory McIlroy followed his opening-round 70 with a 73 to be one over the card as world number one Dustin Johnson (73) ended the day two over.

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson emerged from the jaws of elimination, qualifying for the weekend via a two-under-par 69 after his forgettable 75 on Thursday.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (76), Adam Scott (75), Sergio Garcia (74), Patrick Reed (73) and Jordan Spieth (69) all avoided the cut, but Justin Rose (77) was not so fortunate at 13 over.

Bubba Watson believes golf should be celebrating the biggest hitters in the game – and he cannot work out why the sport is so "mad at that guy".

Without naming Bryson DeChambeau, Watson appeared to have his mind set on the likes of the man who leads the PGA Tour for driving distance this season.

DeChambeau, who is driving an average of over 320 yards, has faced some flak for placing such an emphasis on physical strength and building up his body to be more powerful off the tee. He plays with custom clubs, each of the same length, and is the defending champion this week at the U.S. Open, an unorthodox winner who rubs some up the wrong way.

Two-time Masters champion Watson, after moving into contention following the second round at Torrey Pines, used his platform to condemn what he sees as a culture of negativity towards players re-thinking the game and finding new ways to win.

"Truthfully, here's the sad part for me. I've got the microphone so I'm going to talk. The sad part for me is we celebrate every sport in the world. We celebrate accomplishments. We celebrate a guy scoring 50 points in the NBA. They are not saying quit shooting three-pointers. But we don't celebrate when a guy makes eight birdies or a guy bombs it 400 yards," Watson said.

"I don't understand how we're not celebrating. We're trying to make golf courses bigger, harder, dumber, however you want to word it, but we're not celebrating our great players.

"I'm definitely not in that group of great players. I'm saying I want to see these guys hammering the ball. I want the next up-and-comer. I want a 6ft 8in guy not playing in the NBA, I want to see him on the PGA Tour bombing the ball.

"We're the only sport not celebrating accomplishments of being a guy working out in the gym that can hit the ball miles. We're mad at that guy. I don't know why, but we are. I'm not, but some people are – golf course designers.

"The NBA, Tom Brady winning, throwing touchdowns, we celebrate that. They don't ever talk about us chopping out of the – hey, he laid up again. That's great. Anyway, that's my rant for the day."

Watson was offloading that baggage after adding a 67 to his opening 72 to reach three under, looking sure to be in contention going into the weekend as he sits just two shots behind clubhouse leader Richard Bland.

DeChambeau followed a 73 with a 69 to sit on level par, still in the hunt at five off the pace.

That was a far healthier position than Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth found themselves in.

Reed bogeyed his final hole to slip to three over, a five-foot putt brushing the edge of the cup. Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this year but was on the borderline of the cut mark after his round on Friday.

Rose added a 77 to his opening 78, and that meant the former champion had no chance of staying around for the weekend's action.

Three-time major winner Spieth followed an opening 77 with a gutsy 69 to give himself a slim chance of making the cut.

Only five men have achieved golfing immortality by winning each of the four majors and completing the coveted Grand Slam.

Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Ben Hogan, Gary Player and Gene Sarazen stand alone among the pantheon of greats to have topped the leaderboard at The Open, the U.S. Open, the US PGA Championship and the Masters.

Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Walter Hagen are among the sport's legends to have accomplished three legs of the Slam – an impressive feat in itself.

Indeed, three active players are just one away and each is eyeing a different title. Rory McIlroy is missing a Masters, Jordan Spieth a PGA Championship and Phil Mickelson a U.S. Open.

For Mickelson, it is certainly not for want of trying – on six occasions he has finished second or tied second for a prize he so greatly craves.

It appeared as though his chances were waning as Father Time had seemingly caught up with a true great. But then, Mickelson upset all the odds to win a sixth career major and second PGA Championship at Kiawah Island last month at the age of 50, making him the oldest player to win a major tournament.

With renewed hope at finally claiming the missing piece of the puzzle, we assess the chances of Mickelson, Spieth and McIlroy in the race to complete the Grand Slam.

PHIL MICKELSON

In terms of a straight race, you could argue that 'Lefty' is in pole position merely because his opportunity is next up.

Moreover, Mickelson has history at Torrey Pines – hosting the U.S. Open for the second time having last done so in 2008 – a venue where he is a three-time winner, albeit the last of those was in 2001.

But that in itself is testament to Mickelson's astonishing longevity, and he made a mockery of suggestions his major-contending days were over at Kiawah Island.

Still, to mix it at that sort of level in the 50s (Mickelson turns 51 on Wednesday) on a regular basis is tough. Indeed, the unexpected triumph was his only top-10 finish on the PGA Tour this season, while he ranks down at 167th for scoring average.

While he does impressively still average over 300 yards off the tee (302.8), in terms of fairway accuracy Mickelson is down at 199th (51.16 per cent), and a putting average of 1.791 would need to be improved to contend.

All in all, you would be a fool to say Mickelson cannot complete the Slam but, speaking pragmatically, even accounting for his PGA Championship heroics, it will take a monumental effort to go back-to-back in the majors this weekend.

RORY MCILROY

A player of outrageous talent whose career in terms of majors has perhaps not quite hit the heights many tipped him to reach.

McIlroy has four to his name thus far, the last of which arrived at the 2014 US PGA Championship. At that stage, it appeared a question of how many he would win. 

It has been a decidedly mixed bag since at the majors, and there is no doubt winning a green jacket is a prize McIlroy would crave above all others in his career.

There have been plenty of close calls at Augusta, where he has six top-10 finishes, and that does not include the 2011 tournament where McIlroy led heading into the final round before enduring an excruciating Sunday that saw him finish way down in 15th.

Once upon a time it would have sounded unthinkable McIlroy would never win a Masters. It's not as clear cut now perhaps, but there are many opportunities left for a player still only 32 years of age.

McIlroy has endured inconsistent form this season, but was a recent winner at the Wells Fargo in a sign that things are slowly starting to click back into place.

His scoring average of 70.363 is the 31st best on the PGA Tour this season, while he ranks tied 14th for top-10 finishes (five).

Only Bryson DeChambeau averages longer off the tee than McIlroy's 318.6 yards but he is way down in 173rd for driving accuracy, while a putting average of 1.740 is something he will be keen to improve.

JORDAN SPIETH

One of the most pleasing aspects of recent months has been the resurgence of Spieth, who had slipped as low as 92nd in the world rankings having missed the cut at the Farmers Insurance Open earlier this year.

But eight top-10 finishes – including a win at the Valero Texas Open – has catapulted him back up to 23rd and many fancied him to complete the Slam at the PGA Championship.

Despite fleeting flashes of promise, Spieth could only finish down in 30th but crucially – much like McIlroy – time is on his side. Indeed, due to the early career success that has seen him become a three-time major victor, it is easy to forget he is only 27.

Prior to Mickelson's triumph last month, the smart money would have been on either McIlroy and Spieth to do the Slam first and perhaps it still is.

Indeed, Spieth probably remains a solid bet to deny Mickelson's own hopes this weekend. He is 21st for scoring average (70.178) and second only to Jon Rahm (10) for top-10 finishes with eight.

Not known as a particularly big hitter off the tee, Spieth is down at tied 83rd for driving distance (298.0) and 184th for driving accuracy but only nine players have a lower putting average than his 1.716.

VERDICT:

In terms of immediate chances then, yes, of course Mickelson has the edge. But logic suggests that it will need a monumental effort for him to repeat what he did at Kiawah Island at Torrey Pines. McIlroy and Spieth can, theoretically at least, continue to compete at the top for the best part of the next two decades. If they do, both have ample opportunity to secure the Grand Slam. As for who does it first…well given the Masters is closer than the PGA then let's go with McIlroy. Check again next April!

Patrick Cantlay defeated Collin Morikawa in a play-off to win the Memorial Tournament on Sunday.

Cantlay earned his second Memorial title, having also won the tournament in 2019, after Morikawa was unable to match his par putt on the first play-off hole.

A sudden-death shoot-out was needed at Muirfield Village Golf Club after Cantlay and fellow American Morikawa finished 13 under through 72 holes following final-round 71s.

It became a showdown between Cantlay and Morikawa on the final day after runaway leader Jon Rahm was forced to withdraw following a positive coronavirus test.

Defending champion Rahm was six shots clear of Cantlay and Morikawa in the third round before the duo were thrust to the top of the leaderboard.

"It's such a weird situation and so unfortunate because, me included, everyone knows it would be a totally different day today had that [Rahm's withdrawal] not happened," Cantlay said after his fourth PGA Tour triumph.

"There's nothing I can do about it and I just tried to work as hard as I could to reset and really get focused.

"I started off a bit shaky today but I really hit a lot of good shots coming in and it felt the same as when I won a couple of years ago. I felt calm and collected and it worked out."

Scottie Scheffler (70) finished two shots behind Cantlay and Morikawa, while Branden Grace (71) was a stroke further back as Patrick Reed and his three-under-par 69 earned him outright fifth at eight under.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (71), four-time major winner Rory McIlroy (72) and former world number one Jordan Spieth (73) ended the event in a share of 18th position at one under.

Defending champion Jon Rahm joined Patrick Cantlay at the top of the leaderboard before the second round of the Memorial Tournament was suspended due to darkness.

The opening round was hit by storms at Muirfield Village, where most of the field managed to complete their second rounds on Friday.

Rahm – eyeing back-to-back Memorial titles – was through 13 holes when play was called for the day, the Spanish star level at eight under alongside Cantlay.

Cantlay had posted a five-under-par 67 to surge to the top of the standings in Dublin, Ohio.

The 2019 champion, Cantlay played 33 holes on Friday to be tied for the two-stroke lead through 36 holes, ahead of fellow American Scottie Scheffler (71).

Carlos Ortiz (68), Max Homa (through 14), Xander Schauffele (through 12) and Rickie Fowler (through 11) ended the day three shots off the pace at the PGA Tour event.

Overnight leader Collin Morikawa completed 12 holes but slipped down to a tie for eighth at four under, alongside the likes of Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Former world number one and three-time major champion Jordan Spieth recorded a five-under-par 67 to bounce back from his first-round 76 – the American improving to one under.

Reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau also completed his round – an even-par 72 – to be seven strokes behind Rahm and Cantlay but it was a testing day.

DeChambeau was taunted by fans amid his ongoing feud with fellow star Brooks Koepka, with approximately 10 spectators ejected.

There is no love lost between DeChambeau and Koepka, particularly after footage of the latter emerged during a post-round interview at the US PGA Championship.

In a leaked viral video, four-time major champion Koepka was seen rolling his eyes at DeChambeau and cursed in frustration during the interview.

After Friday's second round, DeChambeau said: "I think it's absolutely flattering what they're doing. They can keep calling me that all day if they want to, I've got no issue with it.

"When you look at it, to most people it's they think it's a distraction, but I grew up learning how to deal with that stuff and I honestly thought it was flattering.''

On Koepka – who is not playing this week – DeChambeau said: "Look, I've got nothing against him. I've got no issues at all. If he wants to play that game, that's great. I'm going to keep trying to play my best game and when it comes down to it, when somebody's that bothered by someone else it is flattering."

Meanwhile, four-time major champion Rory McIlroy shot back-to-back 72s to be even par.

Collin Morikawa carded a six-under-par 66 to claim a one-stroke lead before bad weather halted the opening round of the Memorial Tournament.

Thunderstorms forced a weather-hit day one to be suspended at Muirfield Village, where Morikawa managed to set the early pace before play was stopped on Thursday.

Morikawa – last year's US PGA Championship winner – was almost flawless in Dublin, Ohio after holing seven birdies and just one bogey.

A run of three consecutive birdies and four in five to start his back nine sent Morikawa to the top of the leaderboard, just ahead of fellow American Adam Long.

"It was definitely the rain," Morikawa said. "The greens were soft enough and they're receptive. But you have to hit the fairway. Out here, wet rough, it's not going to help when the rough is pretty long.

Bo Hoag, Nick Taylor, Xander Schauffele and Rafa Cabrera Bello also completed their rounds and ended the day two strokes off the pace, while defending champion Jon Rahm, Justin Thomas and Rickie Fowler are among a group a shot further back at three under.

Reigning U.S. Open champion and 2018 Memorial Tournament winner Bryson DeChambeau – gearing up for his upcoming title defence at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego this month – was two under through three holes at the time of the suspension.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth also completed three holes – one under – when play was called off, while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who won the PGA Tour event in 2014, did complete his round following a one-over-par 73.

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy will return to finish his round early on Friday after going one over through two holes in wet conditions.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth said he would not be surprised if this week's US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson had another major title in him.

Mickelson, 50, made history as the oldest major winner on Sunday when he triumphed at the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, claiming his sixth career major title.

The American's major victory in the twilight of his career was similar to golf greats Tiger Woods at the 2019 Masters and Jack Nicklaus at the 1986 Masters.

Spieth was full of praise for his childhood hero and long-time mentor, when speaking ahead of this week's Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Texas.

"It seems like all the great ones have that one left at the end," Spieth said.

"I know he'll probably tell you, he thinks he's got more than one left. I don't think anybody will doubt him after this one, but I think it's just wild. I think it's incredible."

The 27-year-old, who has won three major titles, said he watched on in awe as Mickelson triumphed on Sunday for his first major victory since 2013.

"I thought it would be very, very difficult," Spieth said. "He hadn't been in contention in quite a while on the PGA Tour against the guys he was in contention with.

"I know he's won many times on the Champions Tour… I think that might have been something that had been helpful for him as he's coming down the stretch.

"It's just so difficult to be in contention for the first time in a while and be able to tap into that confidence that you're supposed to be there and you're supposed to win."

Spieth's career skyrocketed after playing alongside Mickelson at the 2013 Deutsche Bank Championship where he shot a final-round 62. That round prompted Mickelson to call US Presidents Cup Captain Fred Couples to insist on calling up Spieth.

The Texan has long held an adoration for Mickelson, revealing he had got his prized signature in his youth. That adoration has been further reinforced by the recent fears of Mickelson, 23 years Spieth's senior.

"His streak of not being outside the top 50 in the world for however long, that is going to be a very difficult task for anybody going forward to match," Spieth said.

"Then to win a tournament, let alone a major championship, at 50 with how young and stacked the game has gotten is just an incredible feat.

"I think the way he handled Saturday and Sunday, when he did make mistakes - especially on the back nine on Saturday to then close that out and remain in the lead - it was typical Phil."

Phil Mickelson became the oldest major winner in golf history after claiming the US PGA Championship.

Mickelson made history thanks to the 50-year-old American's two-stroke victory at Kiawah Island on Sunday, eclipsing Julius Boros (48 years and four months at the 1968 PGA Championship).

A final-round 73 saw Mickelson clinch a second PGA Championship title, having also tasted success in 2005, and sixth major crown.

Mickelson's remarkable triumph at six under ended an eight-year major drought after last reigning supreme via the 2013 Open Championship, while he had not won on the PGA Tour since 2019.

Louis Oosthuizen (73) and four-time major champion Brooks Koepka (74) – a two-time PGA Championship winner – finished tied for second in South Carolina.

Mickelson carried a one-shot lead over Koepka into the final round and he had to overcome a slow start in his stunning title pursuit.

It was a tough and chaotic front nine for Mickelson, who bogeyed his opening hole and dropped the third, having responded with a birdie.

Mickelson mixed a pair of birdies with a bogey from the fifth to the seventh hole approaching the turn.

A birdie at the 10th boosted Mickelson, who then holed back-to-back bogeys after his approach shot at the 13th found water.

Mickelson recovered to gain a stroke at the 16th and while he bogeyed the 17th, Koepka and Oosthuizen were unable to take advantage after also ending the deciding round over the card.

Shane Lowry (69), Padraig Harrington (69), Harry Higgs (70) and Paul Casey (71) earned a share of fourth position – four strokes behind Mickelson.

Defending champion Collin Morikawa's bid for back-to-back titles ended in a tie for eighth spot, alongside the likes of Jon Rahm (68), Justin Rose (67), Rickie Fowler (71) and Masters runner-up Will Zalatoris (70), while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (72) closed out the event tied for 23rd.

Former world number one Jordan Spieth and his quest to claim a career Grand Slam resulted in a share of 30th at two over, a stroke better off than reigning U.S. Open champion Bryson DeChambeau (77).

As for four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, he ended the tournament in disappointing fashion with a 72 to finish five over.

Phil Mickelson and Brooks Koepka both shot 70 Saturday to set up a mouth-watering final pairing at the US PGA Championship. 

At seven under par for the tournament, Mickelson holds a one-stroke lead over his countryman entering the final round at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course after saving par on 18 while Koepka bogeyed the last. 

The 50-year-old Mickelson is the fourth player aged 50 or older to lead a major after three rounds in the modern era, which began in 1934. 

The others were Tom Watson at the 2009 Open Championship, Greg Norman at the 2008 Open, and Julius Boros at the 1973 US Open -- none of whom ended up holding on for the win. 

Mickelson has been resilient this week in South Carolina, though, steadying himself Saturday after going bogey-double bogey on 12 and 13 to make par on the final five holes. 

While Mickelson's resurgence has excited the fans, Koepka remains a model of consistency at the PGA.

He has finished at least tied for fourth in 12 of the last 13 rounds at the major, and he could become the first player to win the same major three times in a four-year stretch since Watson won the Open in 1980, 1982 and 1983.

Mickelson will be shooting for his sixth major title and first since the 2013 Open, while Koepka seeks his fifth. 

Louis Oosthuizen, who shared the lead with Mickelson entering play Saturday, managed just three birdies on the day on the way to an even-par 72 that left him five under for the tournament. 

American Kevin Streelman (70) is at four under, while Oosthuizen's South African countrymen Branden Grace and Christiaan Bezuidenhout are at three under after even-par rounds of their own. 

Bryson DeChambeau (71) was unable to gain ground on the leaders and enters Sunday five back of Mickelson along with Gary Woodland (72) and Joaquin Niemann (71). 

Jordan Spieth matched Billy Horschel for the low round of the day with a 68, and he sits at even par for the tournament along with Rickie Fowler (69) and Keegan Bradley (72).

Reigning Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama fell from contention with a 76, putting him at one over with the likes of Shane Lowry (73), Padraig Harrington (73) and Ian Poulter (73). 

Rory McIlroy, Bryson DeChambeau and defending champion Collin Morikawa will tee off within the first two hours of the US PGA Championship, which got underway on Thursday at 07:00 local time.

Patrick Rada, Cameron Triangle, Adam Long were the first three players to tee off on Thursday at Kiawah Island's Ocean Course.

Matt Jones highlighted the second group, which teed off 11 minutes later. The Australian won this year's Honda Championship – the same competition which Rory McIlory won before dominating on this course in the PGA Championship in 2012.

McIlroy, who comes into the tournament on the back of a one-stroke victory at the Wells Fargo Championship, is in the hunt for a fifth major title.

His last win in the PGA Championship, in 2014, is his most recent of those major victories, and the Northern Irishman, currently ranked at seventh in the world, is one of the favourites.

McIlroy's average drive of 318 yards across the season so far puts him, in theory, in good stead to handle the Ocean Course, which at 7,878 yards, is the longest major track.

He is set to tee off at 08:33 local time from the first, and is paired with fellow US PGA champions Justin Thomas (2017) and Brooks Koepka (2018, 2019).

Shortly after that trio start, another big hitter in the form of 2020 US Open champion DeChambeau takes to the field. He averages 322 yards per drive this season, topping the PGA tour, though his accuracy is down at 172nd out of 215 players. That accuracy is however better than McIlroy, who ranks at 175th.

Teeing off alongside De Chambeau is Morikawa, who became the third-youngest player to win the major since it became a stroke-play event in 1958 – after McIlroy and the legendary Jack Nicklaus – when he triumphed in California last year.

The Masters champion, Hideki Matsuyama, completes a fearsome trio.

Three more previous US PGA champions will head out together later in the day, with Phil Mickelson, Jason Day and Padraig Harrington taking to the course at 13:14 in South Carolina.

They will be followed from the first by Tommy Fleetwood, world number three Jon Rahm and Patrick Reed, at approximately 13:25.

Jordan Spieth heads into the major as the only player in the field capable of completing a career grand slam this week. He starts at 13:58. 

Xander Schauffele is the first top-five player due out at 08:22, while world number on Dustin Johnson is one of the later starters.

One player who will not be featuring is Francesco Molinari, who withdrew on Thursday due to a back injury.

Energised by the return of spectators, Rory McIlroy is confident he can end his major drought at this week's US PGA Championship.

McIlroy arrives in South Carolina buoyed by his drought-snapping victory at the Wells Fargo Championship earlier this month.

Not since November 2019 had McIlroy reigned supreme on the PGA or European Tour but the former world number one ended his wait at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy has not won a major since 2014, however the 2012 and 2014 PGA Championship winner feels good heading into Thursday's opening round.

"I'm happy with where my game is, so I guess if I go out and play my game and do what I know that I can do, then I can see myself shooting good scores on this golf course," four-time major champion McIlroy told reporters.

"So that's sort of where I'm at. Whether that means I win or not, that's partly up to me, but that's partly on how the other 155 guys in the field play, as well.

"I've just got to go out there, play my game, and if I play my game somewhat close to the best of my ability, I'm sure I'll have a good chance."

Fans returned for the Wells Fargo Championship amid the coronavirus pandemic as McIlroy thrived en route to glory and there will be fans at Kiawah Island this week.

"It's funny, ever since I was 16 years old I've had thousands of people watch me play golf pretty much every time I teed it up. Even going back to amateur golf and. So then not having that, playing in that environment for 14, 15 years and then sort of going the complete opposite, it's just different," he said.

"I said at the time it was like playing practice rounds. It's easy to lose concentration. Everyone is used to a certain environment, whether you work or whatever you do, and it's a bit. I watched the Champions League semi-finals a couple weeks ago and those guys play in that for the first time in their careers and they're playing in an empty stadium. That just must be terrible. That's not at all how you dream of being in a squad like that and playing in a massive game.

"You want to play in front of people and you want to feel that atmosphere. It's unfortunate that in these times a lot of people don't have that experience, but I am glad that we're getting back to some sort of normalcy, and when you hit good shots and hole putts there is claps and rewards and encouragement.

"I feel like that's all a part of tournament golf and competitive sports at the highest level, and just happy that I'm starting to come back."

Another former world number one, Jordan Spieth, is eyeing a milestone at the PGA Championship.

Spieth, who ended his fourth-year title drought in Texas last week, can become the sixth player in history to complete the career Grand Slam and the first to do so by winning a PGA Championship.

The three-time major winner, though, played down his career Grand Slam quest.

"I think as we get into the weekend, if I'm able to work my way into contention, I think it's something that'll obviously be asked and come up, and it's something that I certainly want," Spieth said.

"You go to a major, and for me at this point, I want to win the Masters as badly as I ever have this year. Didn't happen.

"I want to win this one as badly as I ever have. Once you move on to the U.S. Open, the same. Majors, that's what we're trying to peak for those.

"I feel like I'll have a lot of chances at this tournament, and if I just focus on trying to take advantage of this golf course, play it the best I can and kind of stay in the same form tree to green I've been in, all I can ask for is a chance."

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