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.

Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele were in imperious form at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans on Thursday, shooting a 13-under 59 to lead after the opening day.

The reigning FedEx Cup and Olympic champions paired up to produce a tournament record, since the Zurich Classic shifted to a team format in 2017.

While the effort won't officially be added to the list of sub-60 rounds in the PGA Tour record books, the Presidents and Ryder Cup teammates were clearly comfortable in Thursday's best-ball format.

Thursday was the first of two four-ball sessions at TPC Louisiana this weekend, and the duo went seven under over the front nine, including an eagle from Cantlay on the par-five second hole.

Three birdies each from Cantlay and Schauffele on the back nine saw them close a scintillating opening round on 13-under for the day.

As is the case with best-ball format, though, the sub-60 score has not translated into a commanding lead after the opening day, against what is a packed field.

Matthew NeSmith and Taylor Moore are a solitary stroke back after 18 holes, while three teams are locked at 11 under – Aaron Rai and David Lipsky, Tommy Gainey and Robert Garrigus, and the pairing of Doc Redman and Sam Ryder.

Sam Burns and Billy Horschel are a further stroke back at 10 under, along with the team of Bubba Watson and Harold Varner III.

Recent Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and partner Ryan Palmer shot a seven-under 64, but with 10 of the world's top 20 golfers in the field, Cantlay and Schauffele will not be short on competition heading into Friday's alternate format.

Cantlay and Schauffele are comfortable in the alternate format also, though, holding a 4-0 record from the 2019 Presidents Cup and 2021 Ryder Cup.

Cameron Smith believes he will inevitably win The Masters, after his charge for the green jacket unravelled on Sunday.

The Australian went into the final round three strokes behind eventual winner Scottie Scheffler, and he was still in contention with seven holes remaining, before misfortune struck on the 12th hole.

Smith's weekend came undone from there, finishing the round with a one-over 73 and tied for third with Shane Lowry at five-under-par for the tournament.

After winning the Player's Championship in March, the world number six does not view the weekend and eventual faltering of his chances at Augusta National as a learning experience, holding the belief he will eventually put on golf's most coveted prize.

"I don't know really," Smith said. "I feel like I've played some of my best golf around here, it just hasn't quite been my time yet. A couple of lucky breaks here and there, and I'll be putting the green jacket on, I'm sure, one day.

"I feel really comfortable around this place. I feel like it's a place that really suits my game, and I look forward to coming back every year and playing good golf."

After birdieing the 11th hole, the world number six tried to capitalise on momentum and went straight for the pin on the notorious par-three 12th, a hole that leaves little margin of error for the aggressive.

Instead of heading for the safety of the middle of the green, Smith aimed for the narrow strip of green closer to the pin, only for Augusta's Amen Corner to claim another victim.

While his scuffed tee shot and triple bogey on the 12th might take all the headlines, consecutive bogeys after birdieing the opening two holes proved just as consequential, according to Smith.

"Just too many mistakes," he said. "I feel like maybe my two bogeys on the front nine weren't quite deserved – it kind of, I guess, halted my momentum a little bit. I got off to a really good start, birdieing the first two, and then two bogeys to follow that really slowed me down. A poor shot on 12, and there's the tournament.

"It was all fine, it was just a perfect nine iron, it was just a really bad swing. Probably one of the worst swings of the week, and at the worst time of the week. Just unfortunate, but I'll grow from this and be stronger for it."

 

After winning the Masters, Scottie Scheffler revealed he was in tears on the morning of his final round.

The 25-year-old American had not won a PGA Tour event two months ago, but in the past 57 days he has won four of the six events he has entered, and capped it off with a green jacket on Sunday.

Scheffler shot 71 for the round after four-putting the 18th, trimming his winning margin from five strokes down to three with the double-bogey, to finish 10 under for the tournament.

He looked cool, calm and collected throughout as he fought off the challenge of Cameron Smith, but speaking after his win he revealed he was anything but composed on Sunday morning.

"I cried like a baby this morning," he said. "I was so stressed out – I didn’t know what to do.

"I was sitting there telling [wife] Meredith ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this. I’m not ready, I don’t feel like I’m ready for this kind of stuff', and I just felt overwhelmed.

"She told me ‘who are you to say that you are not ready?' and 'who am I to say that I know what’s best for my life?’

"So what we talked about is that God is in control, and that the Lord is leading me; and if today is my time, it’s my time. 

"Gosh, it was a long morning. It was long. My stomach has been hurting for two days straight."

The gravity of the situation was what weighed on Scheffler, knowing the opportunity he had.

"I think I had a five-shot lead on Friday, and then a three-shot lead going into [Sunday] – I don’t know if you get better opportunities than that," he said.

"You don’t want to waste them. The human condition is to make things bigger than they really are, and years from now I would say people may not remember me as a champion, and that’s fine. 

"But in the moment, you think it’s a lot bigger deal than it really is."

While Tiger Woods was the talk of the weekend after returning to golf and making the cut, Scheffler took inspiration from some of his earlier appearances at Augusta.

"[Woods'] YouTube clips are such an inspiration for me," he said. 

"I remember watching the highlights of him winning in '97, kind of running away with it – he never really broke his concentration."

Scottie Scheffler had always dreamed about competing in the Masters, so winning the famous tournament at Augusta National left him full of emotion.

On Sunday, Scheffler secured a fourth PGA Tour win from his most recent six starts, with all four of his career wins having come about in a 57-day hot streak.

Scheffler entered the final round with a three-stroke lead over the chasing field, but after playing partner Cameron Smith found the water on the 12th hole, the 25-year-old American found himself leading by five down the final stretch.

After putting jitters meant he carded a double bogey on 18, Scheffler signed for a 71 to finish 10 under overall, three shots clear of runner-up Rory McIlroy.

He looked largely stoic as he navigated the nerves of a final-round lead, but prior to being presented with his green jacket by last year's champion Hideki Matsuyama in the cabin, Scheffler said he was putting on a brave face.

"I may have looked calm on the outside, but as Hideki [Matsuyama] knows, it's a long day, it's a tough day, so I just tried to keep my head down and execute shots," Scheffler said.

"Probably the first time [winning] popped into my mind was Friday in the afternoon after we got done.

"I never really make it this far – I always dream of just being here and competing. I can't put into words what it means that I'll be able to come back here for a lifetime, hopefully, and I can't speak highly enough of this place.

"I can't thank my family enough. My parents and my sisters have made so many sacrifices for me over the years.

"We've all dreamed about just making this tournament – it's emotional just making the field – so to have the honour of winning the golf tournament is so special."

Later on, he added: "I've dreamed of having a chance to play in this tournament – I teared up the first time I got my invitation in the mail. If you're going to choose a golf tournament to win, this would be the tournament I would want to win."

Scheffler has become the first man to win four times in a PGA Tour campaign by the end of the Masters since David Duval went on an early-season charge in 1999, but that end-of-the-century run did not include a green jacket.

Touching on the on-course action, Scheffler reflected on his crucial chip-in on the third hole after Smith started his day with two consecutive birdies while the eventual winner could not hit a green.

"Very excited [to see it go in] – a bit surprised too," Scheffler said. "It was definitely not a shot I expected to see go in.

"I wouldn't say it changed the complexion of the day, but it definitely got things rolling for me and I played some very solid golf after that.

"I was fortunate to put myself in a position where I was in control of the tournament today, so I didn't have to worry about what anybody else was doing out there.

"If I took care of my stuff, and played good solid golf, I felt like I could get the job done. That was the goal going into today, just keep my head down."

Rory McIlroy narrowly missed out on a maiden Masters triumph but said a record-equalling final round at Augusta made him "as happy as I have ever been on a golf course".

The 32-year-old, who was aiming to complete a career grand slam of the majors, entered Sunday at one over yet gave himself hope of a remarkable victory with an eight-under 64.

That tied the lowest final-round score in the competition's history and is the second-lowest 18-hole score McIlroy has managed in a major, behind his 63 at The Open in 2010.

Magnificent McIlroy's blemish-free round consisted of six birdies, including a dramatic bunker shot at 18, and an awe-inspiring eagle on the par-five 13th.

The Northern Irishman ultimately left himself with too much to do, however, as Scottie Scheffler held his nerve to win by three strokes.

But after rolling back the years with an Augusta showing for the ages, runner-up McIlroy could not hide his delight.

"It's what you dream about, you dream about getting yourself into position," he said. "To play as well as I did today and then to finish like this, it's just absolutely incredible.

"This tournament never ceases to amaze. That's as happy as I've ever been on a golf course, right there. I've never heard roars like that on the 18th green, it was really cool."

McIlroy, who has four major victories to his name but none since 2014, told CBS: "I gave it a great go and I can't ask any more of myself.

"I went out there today, shot my best ever score at Augusta. It's going to be my best finish ever, probably not quite good enough, but I'll come back next year and keep trying."

Scottie Scheffler is now the proud owner of a green jacket after winning the Masters with a terrific performance in the last round – even if he wobbled on the 18th green.

Scheffler, 25, finished 10 under overall and shot 71 on Sunday after a double bogey at the last, winning his fourth career PGA Tour title after landing his first just 57 days ago.

A terrific chip-in on the third hole helped him find his footing after a couple of wayward drives early on, but his ability to recover from less-than-ideal situations was on full display on the first nine.

He would birdie the seventh hole on the way to a bogey-free front half, before his first slip-up came with a bogey on the 10th as he missed a makeable par putt. He lost his putting poise on the final green, but had enough shots in hand that it hardly mattered a jot.

The final day shaped up as a two-horse race between Scheffler and Cameron Smith, but any chance Smith had at mounting a comeback went up in smoke as his tee shot on the par-three 12th found the water.

Smith went on to triple-bogey the hole, and fell apart from that point, pulling drives into the trees as his fight turned from a chance to win to a battle to hang on in the top five.

The surge of the day came from Rory McIlroy, who shot one off the course record with an eight-under 64 to finish outright second at seven under.

McIlroy went bogey-free, with birdies on one, three, seven, eight, 10 and 18, and an eagle on 13.

He capped off his round with a remarkable chip-in from the bunker on 18 – only for his playing partner, Colin Morikawa, to do likewise to put the finishing touches on a 67 to earn outright fifth place at four under.

Also finishing inside the top five was Shane Lowry, who finished with a three-under 69 to tie with Smith for third on a five-under aggregate, despite a triple bogey on the par-three fourth.

Leader Scottie Scheffler is relishing a "great fight" for a maiden major victory at The Masters on Sunday.

World number one Scheffler holds a three-shot lead over Cameron Smith heading into the final round at Augusta.

The 25-year-old bogeyed four of the final seven holes in his third round on Saturday and did well to only drop one shot at 18 after taking a one-stroke penalty following a poor tee shot.

Scheffler will tee off at nine under with a first major triumph in his sights and the American is looking forward to the challenge.

He said: "It should be a great fight. Obviously Cam is a tremendous player, and he's got a fantastic short game, and he's coming off a huge win at The Players.

"Both of us are in good form, so I'm definitely looking forward to the challenge of playing with him tomorrow.

He added: "Little bit of different conditions on the golf course. I'm sure they will keep the green nice and firm, but the wind will be a little lighter. I'm not sure how much lighter it will be, but I think we are both looking forward to the test and the challenge.

"Playing in the final group is always so much fun, so I'm looking forward to it."

Australian Smith knows there will be no margin for error in his final round as he also eyes a first major title.

Asked what it will take for him to win, he replied: "Shoot the lowest score out there again tomorrow probably. No, I think preparation. I think it's not going to be as windy tomorrow.

"Typically here on Sunday, especially the back nine, you can use plenty of greens to your advantage and have plenty of birdie opportunities.

"Again, just stay aggressive into the greens and just keep hitting quality shots."

Sungjae Im is five shots adrift of Scheffler in third place, with Shane Lowry and Charl Schwartzel a further two strokes back.

Scottie Scheffler will head into the final round of the Masters with a three-stroke lead from Cameron Smith, after a volatile back nine on Saturday at Augusta National.

The world number one opened moving day with a five-shot lead, and charged out the gate on Saturday with four birdies over the opening nine holes.

Seeking his first major title, Scheffler then delivered three bogeys on four holes on the back nine, before taking a penalty for an unplayable lie on the par-four 18th.

Yet he salvaged what could have been an even worse outcome, gambling with a long iron and making a tricky up-and-down to finish with just a bogey and an eventual one-under 71.

In windy and icy conditions at Augusta, Smith emerged as the likeliest challenger with a second four-under 68 to finish Saturday on six-under-par.

The Australian world number six will be paired with Scheffler despite trailing by seven shots midway through the third round, claiming three birdies in six holes on the back nine.

Like Scheffler, Smith also skewed his tee shot into the trees on the 18th, but was eventually able to scramble for par.

Smith's Presidents Cup teammate Im Sung-jae is in outright third, shooting a one-under-par 71 in the third round.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods' six-over-par 78 was his worst in 93 rounds over his career at Augusta, leaving him at seven-over-par.

Scottie Scheffler made a superb start to the third round of the Masters to extend his lead to six shots on Saturday.

The mission for the chasing pack was clear going into moving day at Augusta National: chase down the world number one, who ended day two with a five-stroke lead.

But Scheffler, seeking his first major title, made that task even harder with four birdies on the front nine.

After saving par at a tricky first hole, Scheffler produced a stunning second shot at the 575-yard second to put him on the edge of the green.

He chipped to four feet to set up a simple birdie, which was followed by another gain at the third following a superb approach shot to eight feet to move to 10 under par.

A dropped shot at the fourth gave hope to his prospective challengers, but that stroke was clawed back courtesy of an excellent 17-foot putt at the sixth.

He chipped to six feet for another gain at the eighth to improve to 11 under, with a par at the ninth leaving Cameron Smith as his closest challenger at five under through 12.

Scottie Scheffler admitted to having some fortune after windy conditions that had caused many players to struggle on day two of the Masters died down for him later in his round of 67.

The world number one established a five-shot lead at Augusta after shooting a five-under round for the day, a total matched only by Justin Thomas on Friday.

Scheffler sits well ahead of the chasing pack, with previous overnight leader Im Sung-jae, Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry and reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama all on three under par.

Speaking after his round, the 25-year-old exclaimed his happiness with his game, saying: "I feel like my game is in a good spot. I've done a good job managing my way around the golf course the last two days, and I've made some really nice up and downs and key putts that have kept my rounds going.

"I've kept my cards pretty clean for the most part, which is nice."

When asked about the pressure of holding the lead at Augusta, Scheffler added: "If anything, it gives me more confidence. Once I saw that I took the lead at one point today, and my first thought was to just keep trying to build it just because I feel like I'm playing well.

"That will be the goal going into tomorrow, just to keep putting myself in good positions, execute shots, and as long as I'm committed to everything, everything should be fine. The rest really isn't up to me."

Scheffler was among many players to comment on the windy conditions, but did admit that after it had died down, it allowed him to make a strong finish, birdieing four of his last seven holes.

"To be completely honest, the front nine was such a grind," he said. "The wind was crazy. There was some times where we saw the sand blowing up out of the bunkers out there. It was ridiculous.

"I think we were a little bit fortunate that it did die down a little bit towards the end of the day. It was still gusty, but you were able to find some spots where, for instance, on 16 I almost didn't even play any wind. We were definitely fortunate in that sense, but we were also playing in some pretty aggressive winds at the beginning of the round."

World number one Scottie Scheffler leads the Masters by five shots after a strong showing on a windy second day at Augusta.

Scheffler carded a five-under 67 to move to eight under for the tournament, ahead of four players in the chasing pack on three under.

After a woeful start to his second round, bogeying four of the first five holes, Tiger Woods recovered to card 74 for the day, tied for 19th on one over par, at least ensuring he will be back for the weekend.

The leader heading into the second round, Im Sung-jae, was unable to repeat his Thursday heroics but remains in the mix after his round of 74 left him among those tied for second with Charl Schwartzel, Shane Lowry and reigning champion Hideki Matsuyama.

Several big names did miss the cut, with Jordan Spieth and Brooks Koepka finishing on six over par after two rounds, Xander Schauffele on seven over, Justin Rose eight over and Bryson DeChambeau 10 over.

Shot of the day

An honourable mention to Woods and Lowry for tremendous second shots at 10, but there can only be one winner on Friday as Stewart Cink pulled off a crowd-pleasing hole-in-one at the 16th.

The 48-year-old ultimately missed the cut, finishing on seven over par, but hitting his tee shot on 16 to the right of the hole, only for the ball to roll back and into the cup led to the appropriate whooping from the fans and hugging from Cink's caddie, who also happened to be his son Reagan.

Player of the day

Lowry impressed with his four-under round for the day, but there is no looking past Scheffler, who dominated day two in Augusta.

The 25-year-old made seven birdies for his five-under round of 67, the joint-best of the day with Justin Thomas, following his 69 from Thursday and giving him a big lead going into Saturday.

Scheffler was already in the lead when he put his foot on the accelerator after the turn, making birdies on four of his last seven holes.

 

Chipping in

Collin Morikawa on Tiger: "I've never heard roars like that [on Thursday]. Especially at Augusta when everything kind of echoes a little bit more. I think we were walking down six, and [Dustin Johnson] and I heard that Tiger I think made birdie, and you can hear that. There's nothing like it."

Schwartzel on his mindset: "I think that's where I've been going wrong. Mind is too active, and I really worked hard in staying in the present and just trying to execute a golf shot and not to worry about what can go wrong because I've been playing too much golf thinking of what can go wrong."

Cink on whether he would be getting his son Reagan, who also caddied for him on his birthday, a present: "I already got him the hole-in-one. That's the extent of my birthday present. I gave him the ball. That should be enough, right?"

A little birdie told me

- Scheffler's five-stroke margin ties the largest 36-hole lead in Masters history.

- Woods maintains his 100 per cent record of making the cut at the Masters (22 out of 22). He has secured a top five place in 57 per cent of his previous 21 appearances (12), winning the title on five occasions.

- Cink's hole-in-one was the 34th in Masters history, though 16 is by far the most popular hole for aces at Augusta, with 24 being made there.

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.

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