Bryson DeChambeau has quite literally been a big talking point after mixing swinging irons with pumping iron during lockdown.

It was very evident the eccentric American had not been putting his feet up when the PGA Tour resumed in June following a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic.

DeChambeau teed off at the Charles Schwab Challenge with a substantially bulked-up frame after dedicating himself to an intensive daily training schedule while in quarantine.

The world number seven also put his new appearance down to a diet that includes seven protein shakes a day and a 2,000-calorie breakfast, consuming two big meals daily and "munching" inbetween.

DeChambeau has long since given his rivals food for thought with such an alternative approach to the game that earned him the 'mad scientist' nickname.

If the 26-year-old Californian can come up with a recipe for success this week, he could be a major force at the US PGA Championship.

The six-time PGA Tour champion's extra power would have drawn gasps from the galleries if spectators had been allowed in to see the distances he has been hitting the ball since the restart.

His average drive of 324.4 yards is the highest on the PGA Tour this year and can be a huge weapon, but some believe his new-found strength combined with technical adjustments may have impacted his touch game.

He returned with three consecutive top-10 finishes before winning the Rocket Mortgage Classic, but suffered a meltdown as he missed the cut at the Memorial Tournament a fortnight later.

DeChambeau was there for the weekend at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, but finished in a tie for 30th as Justin Thomas won the title on Sunday.

Slow play and on-course tantrums have ensured DeChambeau is unlikely to ever be the most popular player on the circuit, but his drive for success has to be admired.

As does his optimism judging by a recent interview with GQ magazine.

"My goal is to live to 130 or 140. I really think that's possible now with today's technology," he said.

"I think somebody's going to do it in the next 30 or 40 years. I want humans to be better. I want them to succeed. I want to say, 'Hey, this is all of the stuff I've experienced… if it helps you, great. If it doesn't, well, let's keep working on it. Let's keep figuring stuff out."

DeChambeau must hope it is a case of the bigger, the better when he starts his quest to claim a first major title at TPC Harding Park, San Francisco on Thursday.

Tiger Woods has no concerns over his preparation for the US PGA Championship, the American superstar in a confident mood as he chases a 16th major title.

Woods has only made one competitive appearance since the PGA Tour resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic in June – the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village.

In his long-awaited return last month, Woods finished 15 strokes adrift of champion John Rahm in a share of 40th position, the former world number one struggling with a stiff back which has proven troublesome in recent years following surgery.

Woods is now in San Francisco for the PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park, where the four-time winner will play alongside Rory McIlroy and new number one Justin Thomas in Thursday's opening round behind closed doors due to COVID-19.

And the 44-year-old Woods shrugged off the lack of spectators for the first major of 2020, telling reporters: "As far as the focus part of it, I haven't had a problem with that. Those four [Memorial] rounds, I was pretty into it.

"It's different than most of the times when you go from green-to-tee, people yelling or trying to touch you. That part is different. As far as energy while I'm competing and playing, no that's the same. I'm pretty intense when I play and pretty into what I'm doing.

"I don't know if anyone in our generation has ever played without fans in a major championship. It's going to be very different. But it's still a major championship. It's still the best players in the world. We all understand that going into it, so there’s going to be plenty of energy from the competitive side."

Woods added: "I feel good. Obviously I haven't played much competitively, but I've been playing a lot at home. So I've been getting plenty of reps that way … the results that I've seen at home, very enthusiastic about some of the changes I've made and so that's been positive.

"Just trying to get my way back into this part of the season. This is what I've been gearing up for. We've got a lot of big events starting from here, so looking forward to it. This is going to be a fun test for all of us. The rough is up. Fairways are much narrower than they were here in 2009."

Brooks Koepka will start his bid for a PGA Championship three-peat alongside fellow American Gary Woodland and Irishman Shane Lowry at 08:11 (local time), 22 minutes before Woods is scheduled to tee off.

Dethroned world number one Rahm, 2005 champion Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia have been grouped together and will get their campaigns underway at 13:58 (local time), while Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson are another notable group.

When Brooks Koepka sets his mind to something on a golf course there is little he cannot do.

That statement is particularly true when it comes to the majors, where the American's record over the past three years has been phenomenal.

Koepka has won four times in his last 10 appearances at one of golf's big four tournaments, while his lowest finish in 2019 was a tie for fourth at The Open.

The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the golfing calendar in 2020 but major golf is back this week, as TPC Harding Park hosts a behind-closed-doors US PGA Championship.

For Koepka, opportunity knocks for a rare achievement for the second time in a little over year as he aims to win the same major three years running.

He came desperately close to doing it at the U.S. Open last year, finishing runner-up to Gary Woodland.

The fact he had the chance to do it once speaks volumes, to have another opportunity so soon is remarkable. To put it into context, no player has won the same major running three years straight in 64 years.

We delve back into history to look at the names Koepka can join by clinching a three-peat on Sunday.

FOUR STRAIGHT WINS AT THE SAME MAJOR

Young Tom Morris: The Open 1868-72

Winning three in a row is hard enough, but incredibly two players have managed four straight wins at the same major. The first was the legendary Young Tom Morris in the 19th century. The eagle-eyed among you will notice the dates are a five-year span. Well, in 1871 the competition was not played as Morris retired the old trophy – a championship belt. When the Claret Jug was introduced in 1872, Morris made it four in a row.

Walter Hagen: PGA Championship 1924-27

The great Walter Hagen won 11 majors in total and had a particular affinity for the PGA Championship, which he won on five occasions – a joint record with Jack Nicklaus. His four victories in this period came in the tournament's match-play era with Jim Barnes, Wild Bill Mehlhorn, Leo Diegel and Joe Turnesa his beaten opponents.

THREE STRAIGHT WINS AT SAME MAJOR

Jamie Anderson: The Open 1877-79

A few years after Morris' triumphs, it was the turn of Jamie Anderson to dominate golf's oldest major. Incredibly, it did not take long at all for the next man to accomplish the feat…

Bob Ferguson: The Open 1880-1882

Indeed, the achievement happened back-to-back at the same major with Bob Ferguson entering the history books. It was so very nearly four too, but he lost a play-off in 1883, when William Fernie lifted the Claret Jug.

Willie Anderson: The U.S. Open 1903-05

The first and as yet only man to win three straight U.S. Open titles. It was Willie Anderson's fourth in the space of five years, a joint record for the tournament. Ben Hogan went back-to-back in 1950 and 1951 (having also triumphed in 1948), while Curtis Strange and Koepka have also successfully defended the trophy. 

Peter Thomson: The Open 1954-56

Hall of Famer Peter Thomson remains the only player to win three straight majors since golf's Grand Slam was acknowledged as The Open, the Masters, the U.S. Open and the US PGA Championship. Sensationally, in a six-year span from 1953 to 58, the Australian won four times and finished runner-up twice, before he added a fifth title in 1965.

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 said learning from his mistakes was key to his WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational victory.

Thomas carded a five-under 65 to earn a three-stroke win in Memphis on Sunday, securing his third PGA Tour success of the season.

The American also moved top of the world rankings as he continued his strong form in 2020.

Thomas said he learnt plenty ahead of his victory, particularly at the Workday Charity Open, where he gave up a three-stroke lead before losing to Collin Morikawa in a play-off last month.

"It was a hard-fought day, but it meant a lot," he told the Golf Channel.

"I felt like how we did it, being four behind to start the day, I haven't exactly played well coming from behind in the past. I felt like I learnt a lot from that, especially Colonial.

"I just didn't handle it well and I pressed way too hard and I definitely learnt a lot from Workday in Columbus, just how I handled that lead and that situation the last couple of holes. I did obviously a very poor job, but because of that I felt a lot more calm and stayed more in the moment today."

Top of the world rankings, Thomas is also on top of the FedEx Cup standings.

The 27-year-old said he still had room for improvement ahead of the US PGA Championship starting on Thursday.

"It was really important, but at the end of the day if you don't play well in the play-offs, it's hard to win a FedEx Cup, especially in Atlanta," Thomas said.

"Right now, I'm obviously very happy and elated that we got it done today but I need to work on some things and get ready for the PGA next week and try and win another major."

Richy Werenski claimed his first PGA Tour title with victory at the Barracuda Championship on Sunday.

Werenski scored 13 points in the final round of the PGA Tour event, which is played in the Modified Stableford format.

The American, the 2017 runner-up, finished on 39 points, one clear of Troy Merritt.

Werenski mixed five birdies with an eagle and two bogeys to secure his first win on the PGA Tour in his 100th career start.

Merritt left a long birdie putt just short at the final hole, finishing runner-up at the event for the second straight year.

Fabian Gomez and Matthias Schwab were tied for third on 37 points.

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.

Troy Merritt earned a three-point lead following the third round of the Barracuda Championship.

Merritt surged to the top of the leaderboard thanks to his 14-point performance at the PGA Tour tournament, which uses the Modified Stableford format.

With all eyes on the star-studded WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational, two-time PGA Tour champion and last year's runner-up Merritt starred in Truckee, California on Saturday.

Merritt's eight birdies and two bogeys saw the American move to 33 points through 54 holes, ahead of Emiliano Grillo and Maverick McNealy.

Robert Streb is on 28 points, while overnight leader Kyle Stanley (22) plummeted to a share of 10th position.

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.

Kyle Stanley grabbed the lead at the halfway mark of the Barracuda Championship on Friday.

Stanley moved onto 22 points at the PGA Tour event, which is played in the Modified Stableford format.

The American made six birdies, an eagle and three bogeys to score 14 points in the second round in Truckee, California.

Matthias Schwab (20 points), Robert Streb (20) and Branden Grace (20) are tied for second.

Last year's runner-up Troy Merritt and Maverick McNealy are on 19 points.

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.

Former winner Padraig Harrington has pulled out of next week's US PGA Championship, saying it is a "prudent" move amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The 2008 champion said he would be remaining in Ireland rather than travelling to San Francisco for what will be the first major of the year.

Harrington, who has also twice triumphed at the Open Championship, has not played on the PGA Tour since it emerged from lockdown and will not make the trip to TPC Harding Park.

The 48-year-old's last top-10 finish on the US tour came in 2016 and he has missed the cut at five of the last six US PGA Championships.

The popular Irishman hopes to return to play in future editions of the major, with all past winners eligible for exemptions to compete.

Harrington said in a statement posted on Twitter: "After much deliberation, I have decided not to travel to next week's PGA Championship.

"As COVID-19 currently looks to be under control in Ireland, I am taking the prudent approach by following the guidelines and reducing the risk as much as possible by staying at home.

"I'm sure I'll be watching every shot on TV with great interest and hopefully I'll have many more years to play in the PGA Championship."

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."

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