The season's second major gets under way on Thursday, as the US PGA Championship starts at Southern Hills Country Club.

Despite being included in the field for the tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma, reigning champion Phil Mickelson will not be on hand to defend his title.

Mickelson, who became the oldest player to win a major when he triumphed at the US PGA in South Carolina last year, is continuing his break from golf, which came after criticism over his comments regarding the Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway Golf Super League.

While the GSL cloud hangs over the heads of certain players who have requested releases from the PGA Tour, the focus this week will be on claiming the huge prize of a major title.

Tiger Woods is back, after his remarkable Masters return, while world number one Scottie Scheffler is on the hunt for another major title following his success at Augusta.

Stats Perform's experts have taken a look at some of the likely candidates.

No stopping Scottie – Ben Spratt

Only three men have won both the Masters and the US PGA in the same year, with Jack Nicklaus the last to do so in 1975. That is the esteemed company Augusta champion Scheffler hopes to be keeping – and you would be bold to back against him this season. Scheffler ended 2021 ranked 12th in the world and still waiting on his first PGA Tour victory. He has since won four times, including at the Masters, to become world number one and the clear man to beat. The 25-year-old has two top-10 finishes in both entries at this tournament and played a practice round at Southern Hills earlier this month to prepare himself for another tilt.

Rahm makes timely return to form – Patric Ridge

World number two Jon Rahm will tee off in Oklahoma on Thursday on the back of winning the Mexico Open last time out. Rahm has finished in the top 15 in six of the 11 competitions he has featured in this season. Prior to his win in Mexico, the Spaniard's putting had been letting him down, but the rest of his game has been top-notch. Rahm's strokes gained off the tee is a PGA Tour-leading 1.311, while his strokes gained tee to green also ranks first (1.808). The 27-year-old finished T8 in this major last year and his best result was T4 back in 2018 – he could be celebrating back-to-back wins on Sunday.

First major to get Burns treatment – John Skilbeck

Sam Burns missed the cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson, but we should forget that; one bad round cost him and there have been very few of those this season from the 25-year-old. Besides, he followed that 73 with a gutsy 67. Admittedly, Burns also missed the cut at the Masters, but he has titles at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Valspar Championship in the current campaign, successfully defending his title at the latter after a breakthrough win last year. He has achieved six top-10 finishes in the 2021-22 season, has banked almost $4.5million, and sits second in the FedEx Cup standings. The PGA Championship can throw up funky winners and Burns might just be ready to join the list. He has yet to challenge in a major but that surely must change soon.

Rory can end major drought – David Segar

It is eight years since Rory McIlroy won the last of his four majors at the PGA Championship, but the Northern Irishman can end that drought this week. He produced a late surge to finish second in The Masters, with a stunning Sunday 64. McIlroy is third on the PGA Tour for shots gained off the tee. His two scores of 68 over the weekend earned fifth place at the recent Wells Fargo Championship, setting him up nicely for another major challenge.

Spieth slam? Oh, it's on… – Pete Hanson

Is this the week Jordan Spieth completes the Grand Slam? A tie for 71st and 30th in his last couple of attempts don't make for particularly good omens but Spieth is a player reborn. Having slipped as low as 92nd in the Official World Golf Rankings after last year's Farmers Insurance Open, Spieth has gone about climbing back into the world's top 10 and was back among the winners' circle at the RBC Heritage last month. A missed cut at the Masters was not the start he envisaged to major season but Spieth is at his best with his back against the wall and can firmly be in contention to lift the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday.

Jordan Spieth clinched the RBC Heritage title after winning the first hole of a play-off against Patrick Cantlay.

Spieth started strong with two eagles from the first five holes, and trailing by two strokes heading to the 18th, he needed a birdie to keep things interesting. He delivered, finishing one stroke off Shane Lowry's outright lead at the time.

Lowry looked poised to control proceedings down the second nine, before a botched chip ended up rolling into the water on 14 for a double-bogey, going from one stroke in the lead to joining the chasing pack at 12 under.

Cantlay shot a tidy 68, which included a birdie on 17 to grab a share of Spieth's lead, and missed a birdie putt on 18 for the win.

In the play-off on 18, both players found the bunker in their approaches to the green, but while Spieth had a relatively friendly lie, Cantlay's ball was plugged deep into the sand.

Spieth's bunker shot was terrific, giving him a tap-in par, while Cantlay's sailed 30 feet past the hole and could not pull off the miracle required to force a second play-off hole.

The win is Spieth's first in over a year since the 2021 Valero Texas Open, and his first since becoming a father. He was greeted by his wife and son on the 18th green after the triumph.

"Last week [at the Masters] was really a killer for me, my favourite tournament in the world, not making the weekend, so I tried to work a little extra here," Spieth said. "It feels amazing.

"I won this tournament without a putter! This is one of the worst tournaments I've putted that I've stayed in contention. I just tried to stay positive on the back nine today, gritty.

"I have a lot of belief in my putting. The fact that I feel like I can get it done in an off-week is a really good feeling, so I know what I need to work on in the next few weeks to get ready for the rest of the season."

Sepp Straka threatened to join the playoff after he moved into a share of the lead at 13 under with an outrageous long birdie putt on 17, but had to take a bogey on 18 after a poor approach to the green had him flirting with out-of-bounds territory.

Harold Varner III also had a chance to join Spieth and Cantlay with a 40-foot putt on the 18th hole, but narrowly missed.

Joining the seven-player group tied for third was Cam Davis, who shot a bogey-free 63 for the best round of the day, as well as JT Poston.

Erik van Rooyen had the outright lead early in the day after birdieing four consecutive holes starting on the second, but four bogeys on the back nine took him out of the hunt – the South African tying for 10th with Tommy Fleetwood at 11 under.

Collin Morikawa shot his best score of the week with a 68, but it included a triple-bogey on the par-three 17th to finish at seven under in a tie for 26th with Kevin Na and Maverick McNealy.

Justin Thomas was one shot further back at six under after his 67 gave him his best round of the week.

Reigning champion Stewart Cink was disappointing after a 67 in round one, following it with rounds of 75, 71 and 74.

Tiger Woods looked in good health in his return to The Masters, but it is Im Sung-jae who stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at Augusta National.

In Woods' first competitive round since The Masters in 2020, the legend finished with three birdies – on the sixth, 13th and 16th – as well as two bogeys, on the eighth and 14th holes.

South Korea's Im produced the round of the day, birdieing the first three holes on his way to five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on 13 to finish at five under.

Smith, who recently won The Players Championship, finished one shot off the lead and outright second at four under, despite bookending his round with double-bogeys on both the first and the 18th, with eight birdies in between.

World number one Scottie Scheffler nearly went bogey-free, but a slip-up on 18 saw him finish two shots off the pace at three under. 

It was a similar story for Dustin Johnson, who birdied four of his first 10 holes before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish tied with Scheffler, as well as Chile's Joaquin Niemann and England's Danny Willett in a tie for third.

Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Corey Conners highlight the small group tied for seventh at two under, while Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and former runner-up Will Zalatoris are one further back, tied with Woods for 10th.

A decorated group finished at even par, including Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia, as well as Victor Hovland, who had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

A pair of big names shot 73 for a one over finish in Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, while plenty of notable stars were a further shot back.

Bookmakers' favourite Jon Rahm was uncharacteristically off his game, with four bogeys and two birdies to finish at two over along with Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka was two under through nine holes, but three consecutive bogeys on 11, 12 and 13 drained his confidence, eventually finishing three over.

Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas had a day to forget at four over.

Tiger Woods looked in good health in his return to The Masters, but it is Sungjae Im who stands alone atop the leaderboard after the first round at Augusta National.

In Woods' first competitive round since The Masters in 2020, the legend finished with three birdies – on the sixth, 13th and 16th – as well as two bogeys, on the eighth and 14th holes.

South Korea's Im produced the round of the day, birdieing the first three holes on his way to five birdies, two bogeys and an eagle on 13 to finish at five under.

Smith, who recently won The Players Championship, finished one shot off the lead and outright second at four under, despite bookending his round with double-bogeys on both the first and the 18th, with eight birdies in between.

World number one Scottie Scheffler nearly went bogey-free, but a slip-up on 18 saw him finish two shots off the pace at three under. 

It was a similar story for Dustin Johnson, who birdied four of his first 10 holes before dropping a shot on the 17th to finish tied with Scheffler, as well as Chile's Joaquin Niemann and England's Danny Willett in a tie for third.

Patrick Cantlay and Canadian Corey Conners highlight the small group tied for seventh at two under, while Tony Finau, Webb Simpson and former runner-up Will Zalatoris are one further back, tied with Woods for 10th.

A decorated group finished at even par, including Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia, as well as Victor Hovland, who had five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey.

A pair of big names shot 73 for a one over finish in Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, while plenty of notable stars were a further shot back.

Bookmakers' favourite Jon Rahm was uncharacteristically off his game, with four bogeys and two birdies to finish at two over along with Max Homa, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth and Adam Scott.

Brooks Koepka was two under through nine holes, but three consecutive bogeys on 11, 12 and 13 drained his confidence, eventually finishing three over.

Bryson DeChambeau, Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Thomas had a day to forget at four over.

Peaking too soon is a problem for every golf season, for the Masters at Augusta – the first major of the year – is what the sport is all about.

The greatest names have embarked on Georgia in pursuit of a prized green jacket.

But to enjoy a successful Sunday this week, players must get to grips with perhaps the biggest star of them all: the iconic course itself.

Augusta is what makes the Masters the Masters, so Stats Perform breaks down where one of the most prestigious tournaments sport might be won and lost.

LONGEST HOLE

At 575 yards, the par-five second hole – Pink Dogwood – is the longest on the course, but that does not mean it is the toughest, instead offering some respite following the tricky first.

Historically, number two has been played in 4.78 strokes on average, making it the third-easiest hole at Augusta in relation to par. In fact, the lowest average on record came in 2020 (4.467) – and that was not a mere quirk of the strange conditions around the course in recent years without the usual crowds, given the highest average, in 1957, was 4.996. Yep, the second has never played at even par or worse.

SHORTEST HOLE

Skill rather than strength is required to negotiate Redbud, the 170-yard, par-three 16th. Considered too easy in the tournament's early days, the installation of a pond added some peril – and plenty of drama. With three bunkers around the green, too, the tee shot has to be pretty perfect or something spectacular will be required to come up with a birdie, as Tiger Woods will attest. "In your life, have you seen anything like that?"

Unsurprisingly, though, given its length, the 16th is also the setting for the vast majority of the Masters' holes-in-one. Of the 33 in tournament history, 23 have come at Redbud, including the first from amateur Ross Somerville at the inaugural tournament in 1934 but also 16 since the turn of the century. The last came courtesy of Tommy Fleetwood in 2021.

HARDEST HOLE

Think of Augusta and you will likely quickly focus on Amen Corner, but the most daunting challenge of all lies at the hole immediately prior: the par-four number 10 Camellia. Statistically, with a stroke average of 4.3 (0.3 over par), this is as tough as it gets – albeit only fractionally ahead of the 11th.

With its lowest stroke average 4.082 in 2018, the 10th has never played at even par or better... unless your name is Jordan Spieth. The 2015 Masters champion has a real knack around Camellia, with four birdies in four rounds last year. Few others have been able to follow Spieth's example at what was originally the first hole.

EASIEST HOLE

With the hardest hole followed by the second-ranked 11th and fourth-ranked 12th, there might be a sense of relief at Azalea, the par-five number 13 with a 4.77 stroke average. But there is very much a risk-reward approach to this 510-yard hole, at which the player can go for the green in two but must beware the water to the left and the trees to the right.

This is another set-up that suits Spieth well, as it does the absent Phil Mickelson, even if his most memorable shot at Azalea was not exactly an exhibition in playing the hole. An error created the opportunity for Mickelson's six-iron from the pine straw on Sunday in 2010.

THE RECORDS

The course record belongs to Nick Price and Greg Norman, who both shot 63s, but perhaps it should come as no surprise Spieth has the best career average of all players to play 25 or more rounds at Augusta, with his 70.46 leading Woods' 70.87.

That mark will come under threat should Dustin Johnson (71.03) produce anything like his sensational record-breaking 2020 performance again, however. Helped by carding only four bogeys – a low among Masters champions – Johnson's 20-under total of 268 trimmed two off the previous week-long benchmark owned jointly by Woods and Spieth.

Still, with Cameron Smith and Im Sung-jae 'only' five back, Woods' record winning margin of 12 strokes to Tom Kite in 1997 remained.

Ryan Palmer holds a two-stroke lead over the field after the second round of the Valero Texas Open.

Palmer, who shot four under in round one, finished with a six-under 66 to move to 10 under.

The American finished the round bogey-free, and three times carded back-to-back birdies on the second and third, eighth and ninth, and 14th and 15th.

Speaking to the media after his round, Palmer said the key to his success is to limit the severity of his mistakes.

"It's a golf course – if you get it off-line, you're going to struggle," he said. 

"I was able to keep the ball in front of me. When I've missed fairways, I've gotten fortunate breaks, I think. 

"[This] weekend, it's a matter of just avoiding those big misses."

Kevin Chappell worked his way into a three-way tie for second after he shot 65 for the best round of the day, and he is joined at eight under by South Africa's Dylan Frittelli and American Matt Kuchar.

Chappell – who is ranked as the world number 547 – played the course beautifully, nabbing an eagle on the par five second hole before going bogey-free and birdieing the eighth, ninth, 12th, 15th and 17th.

The leader after round one, Russell Knox, had a poor day, bogeying four of his first six holes on the way to shooting 76, dropping down to three under and a tie for 27th.

With the cut-line at even par, Jordan Spieth followed up his even par first round with a 70 on Friday to sneak into the frame.

Plenty of notable names who will hope to contest the US Masters crown next week failed to make the cut, including Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Bryson DeChambeau.

 

Russell Knox's bogey-free 65 earned him top spot on the Valero Texas Open leaderboard after the first round of action at TPC San Antonio.

The Scotsman was excellent all day, highlighted by his four consecutive birdies starting on the 12th hole to finish seven under.

He is one stroke ahead of Denmark's Rasmus Hojgaard, who eagled the par-five 18th to finish at six under and make up for his double-bogey on nine.

Speaking to the media after his round, Knox spoke about getting control of his driver, and the potential to play in next week's US Masters.

"I would love to win and get to play next week," he said. 

"I know my game is good, so I've got to keep playing well and see if I can have a great finish.

"I've been a little more consistent tee to green. I'm back to kind of feeling like the way I should be playing, which has been nice.

"Off the tee's been kind of important for me. Over the last couple years I just kind of got off track slightly, hitting a few wayward tee shots.

"I've worked hard with my coach, Mark McCann, and we've really gone back to fundamentals, got my set-up correct and it just gives me the freedom to kind of swing away.

"I know it's never going to be perfect, but the last couple months it's really been a strength of mine again."

Matt Kuchar and Englishman Aaron Rai are in a four-player tie for third at five under, with India's Anirban Lahiri and Australian Matthew Jones part of the large contingent at four under.

In-form Canadian Corey Conners finished tied with Richard Bland and Tony Finau with a big group at two under, with Ian Poulter and Keegan Bradley one shot further back.

It was an up-and-down round for Rickie Fowler, with his bogey on 18 forcing him to accept even-par for the day, which he shared with stars Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth.

Bryson DeChambeau and Lee Westwood highlighted the group at plus one, while Jason Day and Hideki Matsuyama will be fighting to make the cut after carding plus two.

Joaquin Niemann extended his lead at the Genesis Invitational to three strokes after an eagle on the 10th hole on the third day at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

The Chilean, who led after both of the first two days, carded a six-under-round of 68 to be 19-under overall, meaning his 194 across 54 holes is a course record. He leads from Cameron Young who is 16-under.

Young's double bogey on the 16th hole opened up a big gap at the top, with Viktor Hovland moving into third with a six-under-65 but he is six shots behind Niemann at 13-under.

Niemann carded four birdies on the front nine, before the highlight of his day with an eagle on the 10th after an aggressive drive.

The eagle took world number 32 Niemann to 21-under before two bogeys in his final seven holes, although Young was unable to make any major inroads.

Norwegian world number four Hovland was the big mover on Saturday, with five birdies on the front nine, although bogeys on the 14th and 15th slowed his charge.

Former PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas is one stroke behind the Norwegian after a one-under-70, while second-ranked Collin Morikawa is a further shot back after his three-under-68 took him to 11-under overall.

Last week's Arizona Open winner Scottie Scheffler also managed a six-under-round to be tied on 10-under alongside Maverick McNealy, Marc Leishman and Max Homa.

Rory McIlroy carded a four-under-67 to be seven-under and tied in a large group that includes three-time major champion Jordan Spieth who struggled with a two-over-73 with three bogeys and one birdie for the day.

Brooks Koepka made a strong start to the Phoenix Open as he heads into day two in a tie for third at five under par, with the four-time major winner looking to put an "embarrassing" fall from grace behind him.

Koepka has not won a tournament since succeeding in Phoenix a little under a year ago – while he impressed at the PGA Championship in May, finishing joint-second, Koepka is not happy with how the past 12 months or so have gone.

He teed off in Arizona ranked 20th in the world, something of a far cry from spending 47 weeks at number one across 2018 and 2019 – three of his four major wins came in those years.

Koepka, rarely one to mince his words, feels ashamed of his slide, even if he puts it partly down to injury.

"That's embarrassing to be 20th, I feel like," he said after his first round on Thursday.

"A lot of it has to do with injury, man. I've been hurt, on the sidelines. Not playing, playing through injury, you can't compete with guys out here.

"It's nice to be somewhat healthy and get out here, and I mean, I'm not too worried about it [the ranking], it will bounce back up."

Indeed, there was nothing embarrassing about his performance at TPC Scottsdale on day one, his six birdies – offset by a single bogey – putting him right near the top of the leaderboard.

Nevertheless, he still has a plenty of work to do.

Lee Kyoung-hoon is one shot better off thanks to a glorious showing after the turn, playing the front nine five under par after starting on the ninth hole.

But leading the way is a surprise contender: 24-year-old Sahith Theegala, who is competing as a sponsor's exemption.

Theegala has a one-shot lead over Lee, though he had to finish his round while putting on his 17th hole of the day as play was suspended due to bad light.

Additionally, his next shot when he resumes in the morning will be a 16-foot putt for par, so his lead may not last for long.

A host of familiar names are not too far behind those leading the way, with Xander Schauffele, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Cantlay, Jon Rahm and Bubba Watson among a large group on four under.

Jordan Spieth is three shots further back.

Adam Schenk carded a 10-under-par to surge into a share of the lead alongside top-ranked Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas at the halfway mark of the Farmers Insurance Open on Thursday.

Schenk, who is ranked 54th and has never won a PGA Tour title, carded a career-best PGA Tour round of 62, which included making 10 birdies and hitting four of 14 fairways.

The American, who turned 30 on Wednesday, made eight consecutive birdies was within one shot of equaling the course record, with his 15-feet putt on the 18th hole lipping out.

Reigning US Open winner Rahm, who opened the tournament with a six-under-par 66, backed up with a seven-under-round on the second day on the North Course at Torrey Pines.

World number six Thomas is locked with Schenk and Rahm at 13-under overall after his nine-under round.

The trio lead from Cameron Tringale at 12-under, with Peter Malnati next with 11-under.

Opening day leader Billy Horschel slipped down the leaderboard after a one-over round to be eight-under overall.

Will Zalatoris, who started and finished the second day with eagles, is among a group of six at seven-under including Dustin Johnson.

Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka were among the notable players to miss the cut.

Spieth's four-over card ended his run holding the longest active made-cut streak (20) on the PGA Tour.

Page 1 of 8
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.