PGA Championship 2020

PGA Championship 2020: Ranking the top 100 golfers competing at TPC Harding Park

By Daniel Rapaport

Finally, we can say something we haven’t been able to in over a year: it’s a major week. The world’s best players will take to the Bay Area this week for the PGA Championship, in what will be the first major championship for TPC Harding Park. It’s the beginning of a condensed, COVID-abbreviated major-championship season, with the U.S. Open coming a month later, the Masters in November and no Open Championship until next summer. 

To get you prepared, Golf Digest has ranked the top 100 players in the field, counting down from least likely to win to most, and giving you nuggets of information on each player along the way. Whether you’re looking for smart bets, longshots or trying to fill out your DFS roster, we have you covered. Happy reading, and happy watching.
Editor's Note: All strokes gained statistics are prior to the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the Barracuda Championship.

100. Ryan Vermeer
Age: 42 World ranking: N/A PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-80, 2019
Club pro out of Happy Holllow Club in Nebraska. Has played in three PGA Championships before, making the cut for the first time last year. Also made the cut in last year’s Corales Puntacana Resort & Club Championship. Played collegiately at Kansas.

99. Steve Stricker
Age: 53 World ranking: 515 PGA Championship appearances: 21
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 1998
Former runner up in this event albeit 22 years ago (back when this writer was a few months short of his fourth birthday). Won all four matches alongside Tiger Woods at TPC Harding Park at 2009 Presidents Cup. U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s starts these days are more about getting an up-close look at potential team members for Whistling Straits. He has, however, made five of his last six cuts on tour, so could stick around for the weekend.

98. Ryo Ishikawa
Age: 28 World ranking: 97 PGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T-29, 2013
Eleven years ago, he became the youngest player to crack the top 50 in the World Rankings at 17. Lost his PGA Tour card in 2017 and has been playing in his native Japan ever since, finding some serious form last year that saw him win three times and get back into the top 100. Will be making his first major start since the 2015 U.S. Open; hasn’t made a cut in a major since the 2013 PGA.

97. Chan Kim
Age: 30 World ranking: 83 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Long-hitting American played one year at Arizona State before turning pro. Hasn’t found footing in the U.S. just yet but has made a nice living in Japan, where he won his fourth event at last October’s Japan Open Golf Championship. Finished T-11 in the 2017 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

96. Haotong Li
Age: 24 World ranking: 114 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-36, 2019
Looked destined for stardom after finishing solo third as a 21-year-old at the 2017 British Open, but hasn’t quite materialized. Played his way onto the International Presidents Cup team last year but experience was a bit of a nightmare, including getting walloped by Dustin Johnson in singles. Missed three of his last four cuts coming into Memphis.

95. Jason Dufner
Age: 43 World ranking: 277 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2013
Crowning achievement of his career came at this tournament in 2013, when he held off Jim Furyk to win at Oak Hill. Came close in 2011 as well, losing to Keegan Bradley in a playoff at Atlanta Athletic Club. Not the same player he was in the early 2010s, and the short putting can be tough to watch at times—he ranks 202nd in strokes gained/putting for the year. His ball-striking could allow him to make the cut, but little reason to believe he can contend.

94. Keith Mitchell
Age: 28 World ranking: 106 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: MC, 2019
Plays his best golf in the state of Florida, where he won the 2019 Honda Classic and finished T-5/T-6 in the last two Arnold Palmer Invitationals. Has missed half his cuts this season and missed the cut in three of the four majors last year.

93. Zach Johnson
Age: 44 World ranking: 210 PGA Championship appearances: 16
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2010
Finds himself fighting the mid-40s purgatory where you’re not quite able to be a factor on the PGA Tour but not ready to turn focus to the senior circuit either. Future U.S. national team captain and borderline Hall of Famer comes in on the strength of three straight made cuts, including a T-11 at the Travelers Championship. One of the few players in the field who played all three previous events at TPC Harding Park: 2005 WGC-American Express (T-43), 2009 Presidents Cup (2-3-0) and 2015 WGC-Match Play (2-1) but did not advance to knockout rounds. Not to be confused with Zach J. Johnson, a club pro from Utah teeing it up this week.

92. Mackenzie Hughes
29 World ranking74 PGA Championship appearances1
Best PGA Championship finish
MC, 2017
Canadian player took solo second at the Honda Classic and had a putt for 59 at the Travelers Championship. As such, has risen more than 175 places in the World Rankings since the start of the year. He’s streaky, though, and has still missed more cuts than he’s made on the season.

91. Joost Luiten
Age: 34 World ranking: 101 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T-21, 2012
Dutchman has been one of the better players on the European Tour over the last decade, winning six times. Played in two European Tour events since the restart, finishing T-16 and T-8. Went 2-1 in group play matches at 2015 WGC-Match Play at Harding Park. Playing a tournament in England this week then will ostensibly fly 12 hours to California on Monday. Not exactly textbook preparation.

90. Nate Lashley
Age: 37 World ranking: 93 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Popular winner at last year’s Rocket Mortgage, where he was last man in the field then won by six. Has two top-three finishes on the season, at the Greenbrier and Phoenix, but in last eight starts has had six missed cuts and withdrawals. Has pulled out of four events this season, citing a wrist injury earlier in the year and a back at the Memorial.

89. C.T. Pan
Age: 28 World ranking: 116 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: MC, 2019
Might be the smallest guy on tour and is thus always fighting uphill in the distance battle. Perhaps that’s why his record in major championships has been so poor—he’s missed the cut in six of his eight appearances, including three as an amateur. Won last year’s RBC Heritage and qualified for last year’s Presidents Cup team. No top 10s on tour since June 2019.

88. Troy Merritt
Age: 34 World ranking: 119 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T-54, 2015
Won a PGA Tour event with a 12-inch blood clot in his arm—no, really—so you can’t ever truly count him out. Just one top 10 in 18 starts this season, which came at last month’s Rocket Mortgage Classic. Missed the cut in both of his last two starts before contending this week at Barracuda Championship and has made the weekend in just two of six major appearances.

87. Kurt Kitayama
Age: 27 World ranking: 85 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-64, 2019
Another American plying his trade overseas. UNLV grad won twice during last year’s European Tour season and came up just short for a third, finishing third in a six-man playoff at the Turkish Airlines Open. Has made the cut in three of his five events on the PGA Tour this year, highlighted by a T-18 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, but missed the cut in the opposite-field Barracuda Championship last week.

86. Paul Waring
Age: 35 World ranking: 87 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
European Tour journeyman is playing the best golf of his career in his mid-30s with six top 10s on that circuit in 2019. Took T-8 at the WGC-HSBC Champions last fall against a world-class field, which will be a confidence boost. Hasn’t played a tournament, however, since the first week of March.

85. Luke List
Age: 35 World ranking: 122 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: 6, 2019
Unable to get into a stacked Colonial field when PGA Tour restarted season, he played his first Korn Ferry Tour event in five years that week and won. Vanderbilt grad picked up a top 10 at the Memorial and a T-32 in his last start, at the 3M Championship. Was well back of the Brooks Koepka-Dustin Johnson mix on Sunday at Bethpage, but eventually finished solo sixth for his best showing in a major.

1219976385Photo by Ben Jared

84. Matthias Schwab
Age: 25 World ranking: 79 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Austrian player jumped more than 50 spots in the World Rankings at end of 2019 with a T-4 at the Italian Open, T-4 at the WGC-HSBC Champions and a T-2 at the Turkish Airlines Open. Managed three starts stateside since the restart, missing the cut at the Memorial and finishing T-32 at the 3M Open before showing very well at the Barracuda Championship. Making his first start in a major.

83. Si Woo Kim
Age: 25 World ranking: 133 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: MC/WD all four times
Became an unlikely winner at the 2017 Players Championship, youngest in history, but victory has not spring-boarded him to stardom as one might have hoped. Could miss the FedEx Cup playoffs. Eight missed cuts and just two top-25 finishes in 20 starts will do that to you. Ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/off the tee, approach, putting, tee-to-green and overall.

82. Matthew Jones
Age: 40 World ranking: 88 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-21, 2015
Aussie won his national open in December for the second time and finished top five at Pebble Beach to get back inside the top 100 in the World Rankings. Yet to record a top-20 finish in 14 career major starts.

81. Rafa Cabrera Bello
Age: 36 World ranking: 58 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2018
Sweet-swinging Spaniard has long seemed a candidate to breakthrough to stardom, but at 36, you wonder if he’s running out of time. Three-time European Tour winner has yet to win on the PGA Tour and has six missed cuts and no top 10s in 14 starts in 2020. Was third-to-last after 36 holes in Memphis. He’s just not playing well at all at the moment, ranking outside the top 150 in the all-important strokes gained/tee-to-green and outside the top 120 in strokes gained/overall.

80. Tom Lewis
Age: 29 World ranking: 46 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: MC, 2019
Under-the-radar Englishman got his PGA Tour card through Korn Fery Tour finals last year. Bit of a rude awakening in his first season stateside, missing his four cuts and five of his first six. Took T-12 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic and T-32 at the 3M Open, so it’s been a bit better recently. Missed the cut in all three majors he’s played on American soil.

79. Andrew Landry
Age: 32 World ranking: 112 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-50, 2018
Not a guy you’d stop to watch hit balls for an hour, but played his way on the PGA Tour and now has victories in two of the last three seasons. Back-to-back missed cuts at Muirfield Village and disappointing showing in Memphis, as well. Ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/approach, around the green, putting, tee-to-green and overall.

78. Harold Varner III
Age: 29 World ranking: 125 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T-36, 2019
Maybe the nicest guy on tour, and he’s proven he can put himself in position in some big tournaments. Next step is playing well when in that position. Was in final group at PGA at Bethpage last year and shot 81. Also held the back-nine lead at Riviera and led by himself after 36 holes at Colonial, but faded both times. Strikes the ball quite well but putter can get ice cold. Like, hard-to-watch cold.

1150339881Photo by Jamie Squire

77. Jazz Janewattananond
Age: 24 World ranking: 52 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-14, 2019
Burst onto the scene at Bethpage last year, when he hung around the top page of the leader board but faded a bit on Sunday for an ultra-respectable T-14 finish. Plays most of his golf in Asia and is the dominant force on the Asian Tour, having won four events on that circuit to get as high as No. 38 in the world. Has had a rough go recently in U.S.—played in four PGA Tour events since the restart, missing the cut at Colonial, Harbour Town and the Memorial, and finishing near the bottom of the leaderboard in Memphis.

76. Victor Perez
Age: 27 World ranking: 50 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Big, 6’6” Frenchman won the prestigious Dunhill Links Championship last fall and was runner-up at Euro Tour’s Abu Dhabi stop in January. Despite not having a PGA Tour card, got himself some starts in the U.S. after the restart, missing the cut at the Charles Schwab Challenge, RBC Heritage and the Memorial by a combined 24 shots. Not much better in Memphis thus far.

75. Jim Furyk
Age: 50 World ranking: 94 PGA Championship appearances: 25
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2013
Former Ryder Cup captain and future Hall of Famer won his PGA Tour Champions debut at the Ally Challenge last weekend. Can still make cuts on the PGA Tour and semi-contend on the right golf course—remember, he finished a shot out of a playoff in last year’s Players Championship against the strongest field in golf, and he still ranks 18th in strokes gained/approach—but majors are a big ask for anyone with Champions Tour eligibility, even if they do have 17 PGA Tour victories to their name. On the other hand, he does have a nice history at Hardin Park: took T-15 in the 2005 WGC-AmEx, went 2-2-1 in the 2009 Presidents Cup, lost to eventual champion Rory McIlroy 1 up in the semis of the 2015 WGC-Match Play.

74. Lucas Herbert
Age: 24 World ranking: 72 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-71, 2019
Young Frenchman won the Dubai Desert Classic in January and finished second in an Asian Tour event in his last start before COVID. Without a PGA Tour card, he hadn’t played in nearly five months until Memphis. Made the cut in his PGA Championship debut last year.

73. Nick Taylor
Age: 32 World ranking: 100 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T68, 2015
Canadian had the week of his life at Pebble Beach in February, staring down Phil Mickelson and winning the AT&T Pro-Am by four. Just one other top 10 on the season and does not rank inside the top 70 in any of the key strokes gained categories.

72. J.T. Poston
Age: 27 World ranking: 66 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-60, 2019
One of only two players to have won a 72-hole PGA Tour event without making a bogey, which he did at last year’s Wyndham Championship. Having a solid season on tour and posted back-to-back top 10s in the first two events after the restart, then missed three straight cuts before Memphis.

71. Cameron Champ
Age: 25 World ranking: 77 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-54, 2019
Was the undisputed longest hitter on tour until Bryson DeChambeau 2.0 came around, and also ranks second in strokes gained/off the tee to Mr. Protein Shake. Picked up his second tour victory last fall and has five top-25 finishes in 2010 but no top 10s. Has been working hard with instructor Sean Foley to dial in his scoring clubs. Shot four straight rounds of 75 or worse at Murifield Village (Saturday-Sunday of the Workday Charity Open, Thursday-Friday of the Memorial).

70. Martin Kaymer
Age: 35 World ranking: 128 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2010
Two-time major winner, including the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits, dropped outside the top 100 in the World Rankings and lost his PGA Tour card at the end of last year. Played his first tournament since March at the Barracuda in an effort to get reps before Harding Park, but missed the cut. Was actually playing nicely before COVID, with four finishes between T-8 and T-16 in five starts on the European Tour. Clearly that top-level gear is hiding within him somewhere, and he knows what it takes to win the biggest tournaments. Went 1-2 at the 2015 WGC-Match Play at Harding Park.

The Memorial Tournament Presented By Nationwide - Round TwoPhoto by Andy Lyons

69. Brandt Snedeker
Age: 39 World ranking: 64 PGA Championship appearances: 12
Best PGA Championship finish: T-12, 2015
One of the best short games on Tour but has missed five of his last seven cuts. Doesn’t hit it far enough to be able to get past inaccurate weeks, and he’s had too many of them recently. Lost all three of his matches at the 2015 WGC-Match Play at TPC Harding Park.

68. Richy Werenski
Age: 28 World ranking: 127 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: MC, 2019
Georgia Tech grad finished eagle-par-birdie to win the Barracuda Championship on Sunday, a victory that gets him into just the third major championship of his career. Has made the cut in all six of his starts since the restart and finished T-3 at the 3M Championship right before the Barracuda, so few are playing better golf at the moment.

67. Sebastian Munoz
Age: 27 World ranking: 98 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Colombian did serious damage in the fall, winning the Sanderson Farms Classic and posting two other finishes of T-7 or better. Led the early FedEx Cup standings but has been sliding down the rankings as he hasn’t fared quite as well against stronger fields. Has missed the cuts in both of his major appearances.

66. Michael Thompson
Age: 35 World ranking: 99 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T22, 2013
Won his second PGA Tour event and first in more than seven years at the 3M Open and thus had to change his travel plans. Out was the Barracuda Championship and an off week; in was the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational and the PGA Championship. Major upgrades.

65. Joel Dahmen
Age: 32 World ranking: 69 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-71, 2019
Told the No Laying Up podcast that he plays golf for a living. By that logic, this season cannot be considered anything other than a success, as he’s already passed $1.65 million in earnings thanks in large part to top fives at Bay Hill and Riviera. University of Washington graduate beat testicular cancer earlier in his career and toiled on the mini tours before a late breakthrough.

64. Kevin Streelman
Age: 41 World ranking: 45 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T-12, 2013
Having a mini-resurgence at 41, with two solo seconds this year to get back into the world top 50. Misses plenty of cuts as his lack of length hurts him, and he’s missed more cuts (four) than he’s made (three) in PGA Championships.

63. Dylan Frittelli
Age: 30 World ranking: 102 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-31, 2018
South African is having a solid season on tour, with three top 10s and eight top-25s in 20 starts. Has been playing mostly by himself recently as he continues to test positive for COVID-19 but has been eligible to play based on the tour’s symptom-based model. Missed the cut by one last year at Bethpage.

62. Graeme McDowell
Age: 40 World ranking: 55 PGA Championship appearances: 14
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2009
Former U.S. Open winner has had a mini-resurgence of late, winning in last year in the Dominican Republic for his first victory anywhere since 2015, and then taking Saudi International title over a solid field in February. Doesn’t seem like a great fit for TPC Harding Park—he’s 202nd in driving distance and 203rd in strokes gained/off the tee—but finished T-6 at the WGC-American Express here back in 2005. Hmm.

graeme-mcdowell-sony-open-2020.jpgPhoto by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

61. Adam Hadwin
Age: 32 World ranking: 60 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-29, 2019
Canadian lacks the top-level firepower you’d like to see in a major, and his best finish in 12 starts in the big four is a T-24. Has three finishes of T-4 or better this season but all came on benign setups.

60. Sung Kang
Age: 33 World ranking: 61 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: 7, 2019
Completely transformed his game with the help of swing instructor George Gankas. Ranks an impressive 34th in driving distance despite a 5’8”, 165-pound frame. Took second at the Genesis Invitational on a major-like Riviera layout, finished seventh at PGA at Bethpage last year. Does miss his fair share of cuts and shot three rounds of 77 or worse in the two weeks at Murifield Village—main culprit has been inaccurate driving of the ball, which does not bode well for Harding Park.

59. Bernd Wiesberger
Age: 34 World ranking: 29 PGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T-15, 2014
Perhaps the least well-known player inside the top 30 in the World Rankings, but golf fans may remember the Austrian played in the final group of the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla alongside Rory McIlroy. Won three times in Europe last year over a five-month span and thus, given the freeze in Ryder Cup points, should have a good chance to make the team next year.

58. Lanto Griffin
Age: 32 World ranking: 86 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Late bloomer, but a bloomer indeed. Had a fantastic fall with six straight finishes of T-18 or better, including his maiden PGA Tour victory at the Houston Open. Hasn’t been quite so prolific competing against stronger fields in the new year, but did add a couple top 10s in the new year and currently ranks 10th in the FedEx Cup standings.

57. Robert MacIntyre
Age: 23 World ranking: 81 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Promising young Scotsman is 23 but doesn’t look a day over 18. Lefty had a cracking major debut at Royal Portrush last year, finishing T-6 thanks to a final-round 68. Memphis was his first start in nearly five months, as he does not have a PGA Tour card and did not play in any of the European Tour events since the restart. Had three runner-ups last season in Europe and projects as a future Ryder Cupper.

56. Keegan Bradley
Age: 34 World ranking: 75 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA championship finish: Win, 2011
One of four golfers ever to win in his major championship debut. Bradley accomplished the feat in 2011 PGA at Atlanta Athletic Club, then finished T-3 the next year at Kiawah. Clearly likes PGA Championship setups, as he’s made the cut in eight of his nine appearances. Form has been rather meh since the restart, going T-32/MC/T-45/T-39/T-68 before Memphis, and it’s been a rather meh season in general—he has no top 10s and just five top 25s in 17 starts.

 keegan-bradley-pga-championship-2018.jpgSam Greenwood/Getty Images

55. Henrik Stenson
Age: 44 World ranking: 33 PGA Championship appearances: 13
Best PGA Championship finish: 3, 2013
Memphis was his first start since the Arnold Palmer Invitational, so certainly a bit of rust to knock off. Would be much lower in the World Rankings if he didn’t win the 18-man Hero World Challenge in December. Has played in just four PGA Tour events this season so any statistical breakdown is tricky. At his age, he’d be the seventh-oldest major winner in history. Still one of the better ball strikers and did finish T-3 at the WGC-American Express at TPC Harding Park in 2005.

54. Lucas Glover
Age: 40 World ranking: 80 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: 5, 2009
Former U.S. Open champ spent some years in the quasi abyss but played solidly in 2019 to get back to the Tour Championship. This season hasn’t been quite as kind, but he continues to make a bunch of cuts and rack up top-25 finishes. Solid ball-striking numbers—he’s still playing the trusty draw that saw him win his major—should give him a solid chance to make the weekend. Made the 2009 Presidents Cup team as a captain’s pick but went 0-3-1 that week at TPC Harding Park.

53. Paul Casey
Age: 43 World ranking: 28 PGA Championship appearances: 17
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2016
The 43-year-old Brit is still striking the ball at an elite level, ranking ninth on tour this season in strokes gained/off the tee and sixth in strokes gained/approach. The short game has been nothing short of a disaster—he ranks outside the top 200 in strokes gained/around the green and strokes gained/putting. Missed back-to-back cuts at the Memorial and 3M and was tied for dead last after 36 holes in Memphis. Has won 20 professional events around the world, including three on the PGA Tour, but it’s getting late for him to check off a major championship. Did win all three of his group-play matches in the 2015 WGC-Match Play event at Harding Park, losing in 22 holes to eventual champion Rory McIlroy in the quarterfinals. Read into that as you will.

52. Ryan Palmer
Age: 43 World ranking: 35 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T-5, 2014
Has two top 10s since the restart, including a solo second against a loaded field at the Memorial, which saw him jump from 73rd in the World Rankings to 40th. Lost all three of his matches at the 2015 WGC-Match Play at TPC Harding Park. Inside the top 20 in strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach and brimming with confidence right now.

51. Cameron Smith
Age: 26 World ranking: 51 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T-25, 2015
Young Aussie won his first PGA Tour event at the Sony Open in January about a month after beating Justin Thomas in singles at the Presidents Cup. Has been a rough go since, missing five of eight cuts as he has struggled with his ball-striking. Ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach, and consequentially is hitting just 65 percent of his greens in regulation. Not a great formula for a major championship.

50. Christiaan Bezuidenhout
 26 World ranking: 47 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Young South African has one of the wilder stories in professional golf—drank rat poison at the age 2 thinking it was Coca-Cola. Had stomach pumped but the poison has had a lasting effect on his nervous system, causing a stutter he battles to this day. Finished second in Dubai in January and won in his native country earlier in February, which got him inside the world’s top 50. Had moderate success stateside so far in 2020, including T-18 at Bay Hill, T-22 at the Memorial and solid showing in Memphis. Needs a strong finish to get his PGA Tour card through non-member FedEx Cup points.

49. Kevin Kisner
Age: 36 World ranking: 34 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-7, 2017
Three-time PGA Tour winner has no trouble dabbling in self-deprecation—famously said at the beginning of last year he had no chance at any of the four major venues for 2019. He was right, at least about Bethpage, where he missed the cut by nine. The good news for this shortish hitter is that Harding Park shouldn’t be quite as beastly. Just two top 10s in 15 starts on tour this year.

48. Jason Kokrak
Age: 35 World ranking: 67 PGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T-19, 2018
Made the Tour Championship last year on strength of a consistent season that saw him miss just two cuts in 24 starts. Already missed six in 11 starts in 2020, but does have two top 10s, including a T-3 at Colonial, but followed that up with three missed cuts and a WD at Memorial after an opening-round 79. Strength of his game is with the driver­—he’s ninth in driving distance an 11th in strokes gained/off the tee this season, which is no surprise, given he’s 6’4” and one of the biggest bodies on the Tour.

47. Joaquin Niemann
Age: 21 World ranking: 68 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T-71, 2018
Former World No. 1 amateur picked up his first PGA Tour victory last September at The Greenbrier. Surely there are more on the way. Already an elite ball-striker at 21, he ranks 40th in strokes gained/off the tee and 12th in strokes gained/approach. Prefers a low ball flight, which hasn’t fared too well at majors—he’s made the cut in just one of his four starts in the big four, with his best finish a T-71 at Bellerive in 2018.

1174935341Photo by Rob Carr

46. Bubba Watson
Age: 41 World ranking: 63 PGA Championship appearances: 13
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2010
Two-time major winner lost in a playoff to Martin Kaymer at the 2010 PGA at Whistling Straits. Perhaps the ultimate horse-for-course, eight of his 12 wins have come on three courses. Not a huge fan of rough so has struggled with traditional PGA setups—has missed the cut in six of his 13 starts in this tournament, including each of the last three years. Went 2-1 at the WGC-Match Play at TPC Harding Park in 2015. Course would seem to neutralize his length and exacerbate his weaknesses, so perhaps not the greatest fit.

45. Matthew Wolff
Age: 21 World ranking: 53 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
One-third of the vaulted “class of 2019” alongside Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland, he’s become something of a phenom with his homemade swing and outgoing personality. Won the 2019 3M Open for his first victory then went nearly a full year without another top 10. Ended that streak with a runner-up at last month’s Rocket Mortgage Classic and seems he’s turned a corner. Missing more cuts than he’d like but he’s 21 and an explosive player—he’s a threat during his “on” weeks, but his off weeks may result in some free weekends. Ranks 15th in strokes gained/off the tee. Southern California native will be making his first-ever start in a major championship, and will do so in his home state.

44. Ian Poulter
Age: 44 World ranking: 57 PGA Championship appearances: 17
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2012
Getting up there in age but still makes a boatload of cuts and can compete on the right courses. He’s hitting just over 61 percent of his greens, which is outside the top 200 on tour. That could be an issue at TPC Harding Park, where the rough will be juicy and finding the short grass will be crucial. An all-time grinder who, as U.S. Ryder Cup fans know well, can get extremely hot on the greens and ranks seventh in strokes gained/putting for the season. Has been close at majors before but nothing recently—last top 10 in one came at the 2015 Masters. Missed the cut in three of the four last year.

43. Chez Reavie
Age: 38 World ranking: 36 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-12, 2018
Has outgrown journeyman distinction with some fine play over the last 18 months. Won his second PGA Tour event last June at the Travelers, nearly 11 years after his previous victory. Won’t wow you on the driving range but knows his game and plays within himself. Played well at the last two PGAs, with a T-12 at Bellerive and a T-14 at a Bethpage Black track that could not have been a worse fit on paper. Also hung around all week for a T-3 at last year’s U.S. Open, so there’s been some major success before.

42. Scottie Scheffler
Age: 24 World ranking: 59 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
University of Texas grad was last year’s Korn Ferry Tour player of the year and one of two favorites to win this year’s PGA Tour Rookie of the Year. Has three top-five finishes on the season, though the most recent of those came back in January. Funky swing but drives it very well, ranking 10th in strokes gained/off the tee for the season. Has played in three U.S. Opens but this will be his first start in any of the other three majors.

The American Express - Round ThreePhoto by Keyur Khamar

41. Billy Horschel
Age: 33 World ranking: 40 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship: T-23, 2018
Been around for a little while now but has just one top 10 in 25 career major starts. Had a nice fortnight at Muirfield Village, finishing T-7 at the Workday and T-13 at the Memorial. Ranks inside the top 30 in strokes gained overall. Won two FedEx Cup playoff events in 2014, including the Tour Championship, so he does have some experience beating the best players in the world.

40. Max Homa
Age: 29 World ranking: 70 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-64, 2019
Golf Twitter’s darling was a popular winner at last year’s Wells Fargo and was playing some terrific golf this year right before the COVID-19 hiatus. Went T-9/T-6/T-14/T-5 from Torrey Pines through Riviera. Slow going since the restart, as he missed four of his first five cuts before bouncing back with a T-3 at the 3M Open thanks to a 64-67 weekend. Ball-striking numbers are very solid, ranking inside the top 40 in strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach.

39. Byeong Hun An
 28 World ranking: 56 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-28, 2017
One of the tour’s better ball-strikers, but his putting can be downright maddening, and it’s earned him a quasi tragic-hero status in Daily Fantasy circles. Former U.S. Amateur champ has missed 11 cuts in 21 career major starts and three of five in the PGA. Memphis was a preview as to what he can be when he does putt well—he entered the final round just one shot off the lead of the WGC, due in no small part to ranking inside the top 20 in strokes gained/putting for the week.

38. Phil Mickelson
 50 World ranking: 49 PGA Championship appearances: 27
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2005
Will be his first major since turning 50 in June. Still shows flashes of genius, as is the case so far in Memphis—he was T-3 going into Sunday—and can still take it low, but has struggled to put four rounds together. The motivation is still there—he’s thinner than ever and continues to tinker with his game, debuting a stop-and-go putting stroke at the Memorial—as is the clubhead speed and the chipping. His iron play (155th in strokes gained/approach) and putting (148th), both hallmarks of the Hall of Famer’s game, have worsened. Has a remarkable record of consistency in PGA Championships, winning it in 2005 and posting eight other top 10s in 27 career appearances. The head says this isn’t happening—he’d be the first player to win a major in his 50s—but the heart says he has at least one major run left in him … even if it does end with a quadruple-bogey 9 on Saturday.

Darren Carroll for Golf Digest

37. Erik van Rooyen
Age: 30 World ranking: 44 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-8, 2019
Talented South African with a gorgeous swing played his college golf at Minnesota. Won his first European Tour event last summer and contended all the way at the WGC-Mexico, eventually finishing T-3. Can handle big, hard courses as evidenced by a T-8 at Bethpage Black last year. Has a good chance to secure a PGA Tour card, which is his goal, through non-member points should he play well this week.

36. Danny Willett
Age: 32 World ranking: 38 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T-30, 2018
Masters champ in 2016 has been to the edge of the abyss and back again since. Fell outside the top 400 in the world as he completely lost confidence but his work with Sean Foley has paid off, as he beat Jon Rahm to win the European Tour’s signature event, the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, last fall to get back into the top 50. Still missing more cuts than you’d like and has no top-25 finishes in eight career PGA Championship appearances. Did finish third at the 2015 WGC-Match Play at TPC Harding Park.

35. Louis Oosthuizen
 37 World ranking: 24 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: T-2, 2017
Hard to believe a player with his swing, and who has been close as many times as he has, still is stuck on just one major. Completed the “second slam” at the 2017 PGA Championship when he finished T-2 at Quail Hollow, meaning he now has finishes of T-2 or better at all four. Has made the cut in seven of his 10 PGA Championship starts. Was going nicely toward the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 but has not had anything to write home about since the restart until semi-contending in Memphis. Some nice history at TPC Harding Park, making the quarters in the 2015 WGC-Match Play. His motivation levels are always a concern—he’d rather be home tending to his farm—but wouldn’t be a total surprise to see him make a run.

34. Shane Lowry
Age: 33 World ranking: 26 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T-8, 2016
Few stories better in the golf world last year than the Irishman’s victory at Open Championship win at Royal Portrush. Has just one top-10 since, which came in the Hong Kong Open on the Asian Tour in January. Missed the cut in three of his last five starts coming into Memphis. Handsy player has one of the best short games on the planet. Ball-striking numbers are fine but he has struggled mightily with the putter on the PGA Tour this season, which is a big reason why he’s currently outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings. Picked up his first top 10 in a PGA Championship last year at Bethpage Black.

33. Kevin Na
Age: 36 World ranking: 30 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2011
One of the best putters on tour is playing some of the best golf of his career. Won twice in 2019, at Colonial and in Las Vegas. Picked up top 10s at the Travelers Championship and the Memorial since the restart. Ranks fourth in strokes gained/putting and 17th in SG/overall, but isn’t very long with the driver and isn’t particularly straight, either. As a result, major setups have been his Kryptonite—he has just two top 10s in 35 career starts, and has missed the cut in six of his 11 PGA starts.

32. Jordan Spieth
Age: 27 World ranking: 62 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2015
Really, really hard to believe he only just turned 27—this will be his eighth PGA Championship appearance and he’s been part of the golf conversation for the better part of a decade now. Fallen off considerably from his world-beating best of 2015 and has been searching for that form, and that swing, for two years. Has not won anywhere since the 2017 Open Championship at Birkdale and sits outside the top 50 in the World Rankings. Continues to say all the right things, that he’s “close,” but his ball-striking numbers say otherwise and you wonder how long he will continue like this. Still, he arrives to San Francisco with a chance to complete the career Grand Slam before turning 30, a victory that would completely shift the narrative surrounding him. Manufactured a T-3 at Bethpage last year.

Darren Carroll for Golf Digest

31. Matt Wallace
Age: 30 World ranking: 43 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2019
Fiery British player—he’s gone through his fair share of caddies—was playing on the Alps tour just four years ago. Been a remarkable rise since, as he won three times on the European Tour in 2018 and has been a top-50 player virtually ever since. Picked up his first top 10 of the PGA Tour season at the Memorial, hanging tough in brutal conditions for a T-4. Finished joint third at Bethpage last year and T-19 at Bellerive, so something about PGA Championship setups certainly suit his eye.

30. Hideki Matsuyama
 28 World ranking: 27 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: T-4, 2016
No longer a young gun by today’s standards, the story remains the same: elite, elite ball-striker who is held back by his putter. Ranks inside the top 10 in strokes gained/approach and strokes gained/tee-to-green and outside the top 200 in strokes gained/putting. His ball-striking prowess has led to some really solid play in the majors, and he’s never missed a cut in seven previous PGA appearances. Picked up top fives in 2016 and 2017 and took T-16 at Bethpage Black last year. Capable of shooting some really low scores on some really hard golf courses if his putter will cooperate. But that’s been a pretty sizable if his entire career. Won all three of his group-play matches in the 2015 WGC-Match Play at Harding Park then lost to eventual champion Rory McIlroy in the first knockout round.

29. Viktor Hovland
Age: 22 World ranking: 31 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
One of the game’s brightest young stars turned pro just 14 months ago but has already established himself as one of the premier ball-strikers on tour. Statistically, he ranks inside the top 10 in strokes gained/off the tee and strokes gained/approach. Anecdotally, watching him drive the ball is extremely impressive. The short game—and, more specifically, the putter—has held him back a bit, but he’ll be a contender in majors if and when he can avoid losing strokes to the field on and around the greens. Finished T-23 or better in his first five starts since the restart, including a solo third at the Workday Charity Open after holding the solo lead early in the final round. Low amateur in both the majors he played in last year, highlighted by a T-12 at the U.S. Open the week before he turned pro. Might be a bit early to expect him to win a major but should he discover a hot putter, stranger things have happened.

28. Rickie Fowler
 31 World ranking: 32 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2014
Fowler has had a rough season, with five missed cuts and just two top 10s in the wraparound campaign. As such, he’s fallen outside the top 30 in the World Rankings for first time since 2014. Looked to be trending in the right direction with a T-12 in Detroit and a T-22 at the Workday Charity Open, then opened with 81 at the Memorial, then nearly made the cut with a second-round 68. Hung around the lead in Memphis. Nothing glaring sticks out statistically, he’s just found himself hovering near the cut line far too many times. Has fared well in past PGAs, making the cut in nine of his 10 starts including a T-3 at Valhalla in 2014 and a T-5 at Quail Hollow in 2017.

27. Matt Kuchar
Age: 42 World ranking: 22 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: T-7, 2015
With nine PGA Tour wins, a Players Championship and a decade as a world-class player, there’s only one thing missing from his resume: a major. Closest he got was solo second at the 2017 British Open. At 42, he’s running low on opportunities, but his window remains open. Four top 10s in 11 PGA Championship appearances, including a T-8 at Bethpage last year. Started 2020 quite well, beating Justin Rose to win an Asian Tour event in February then finishing T-2 at Riviera in February. Been a bit of a slog since the restart, going MC/T-41/T-39/T-32 before Memphis. The ball-striking numbers have dropped from last year, particularly his approach play, but he’s fifth in strokes gained/putting on the season. Went 1-2 in group play matches in the 2015 WGC-Match Play at Harding Park.

2019 Presidents Cup - Day 4Photo by Daniel Pockett

26. Sergio Garcia
Age: 40 World ranking: 41 PGA Championship appearances: 21
Best PGA Championship finish: 2/T-2, 1999, 2008
Became a household name as a free-wheeling 19-year old at this tournament 21(!) years ago, when he closed his eyes and swung as hard as he can and nearly took down Tiger Woods in the process. Has had an indisputably successful career since, with a Masters victory and 10 PGA Tour wins and 16 in Europe, but you can’t help feeling he’s underachieved a bit. In addition to that near-miss in ’99, he bogeyed two of his last three holes to finish T-2 to Padraig Harrington in the 2008 at Oakland Hills. Did finish T-3 in the 2005 WGC-American Express at TPC Harding Park, but that was many moons ago. Very poor recent finishes in majors: he missed seven straight cuts in golf’s biggest four before going T-52/T-67 at the U.S. and British Opens last year. Has played just nine events this PGA Tour season and picked up his first top-10 at the RBC Heritage.

25. Justin Rose
Age: 40 World ranking: 16 PGA Championship appearances: 17
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2012
Rose to World No. 1 with ruthlessly consistent play in 2018 but has dropped off significantly since. Related: he left TaylorMade, which he’d been with since he turned pro, for Honma at the beginning of 2019 but recently got out of his deal with Honma and is playing a mixed (albeit TaylorMade-heavy) bag. Chipped-and-putted his way to a T-3 at last year’s U.S. Open in the midst of his ball-striking struggles, so he can most certainly grind. Looked to be building some form with a T-3 at Colonial followed by a T-14 at the RBC Heritage, but missed three straight cuts after that and opted to skip the WGC in Memphis to rest for TPC Harding Park. Ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/approach, around the green, putting and overall. Still sits outside the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, though that might not matter too much to a player with 24 victories around the world and a major championship. Yet he’s a prideful player, and he’ll be keen to summon some good form for the first major in over a year.

24. Marc Leishman
Age: 36 World ranking: 19 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA Championship finish: T12, 2013
Easy-going Aussie fired one of the rounds of the season, a 65 on Sunday to win the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines. Took solo second in the last event before the hiatus, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but has been slow getting going since the restart, missing two cuts and finishing T-58 and T-40 in two others. Ranks fourth in strokes gained/approach but has struggled to find fairways, ranking outside the top 200 in driving accuracy. Five career top-10s in majors but none at the PGA, as the typically long, bruising setups have not suited his game. Fared well in the 2015 WGC-Match Play at Harding Park, winning all three of his group-play matches as the No. 56 seed before losing to eventual finalist Gary Woodland.

23. Daniel Berger
Age: 27 World ranking: 20 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-12, 2018
Struggled with a wrist injury in 2018 and 2019 but has battled his way all the way back. Was playing some remarkably consistent golf before the COVID-19 shutdown, posting three straight top 10s. Then won the first event of the restart at Colonial, where he beat Collin Morikawa in a playoff to get back inside the top 30 in the World Rankings, followed by a T-3 at the RBC Heritage. Had a streak of 32 consecutive rounds of par or better broken at the Memorial, where he missed the cut. Well-rounded player ranks inside the top 50 in all main strokes gained categories, including eighth in strokes gained/overall. Mixed bag in prior PGAs, with a T-12 at Bellerive but two missed cuts and two finishes outside top 70 in other four starts.

22. Adam Scott
Age: 40 World ranking: 9 PGA Championship appearances: 19
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3/3, 2006/2018
Maybe the hardest player to predict simply because he has not played a tournament since the first week of March. Opted not to play on PGA Tour during COVID restart. Won the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, which was actually his second win in as many starts, having won the Australian PGA Championship two months earlier. Has a terrific record at PGA Championships with 12 top-25 finishes in 19 starts. One of very few players in the field to have played in all three recent events at TPC Harding Park: took T-29 at the 2005 WGC-American Express, went 1-4-0 at the 2009 Presidents Cup and 0-3-0 at the 2015 WGC-Match Play. Not the best course history, and this week seems like big ask in his first event in five months.


21. Brendon Todd
 35 World ranking: 48 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: 72, 2014
One of the better comeback stories in recent memory. Fell outside the top 2000 in the World Rankings as he developed the “full-swing yips.” Started working with instructor Bradley Hughes and it has made all the difference, and then a little difference on top of that. He won back-to-back PGA Tour events this fall and nearly made it a hat trick, eventually finishing fourth. Hadn’t been quite as successful in the early part of the year but had two great chances to win since the restart, at the Travelers and Memphis. Shot a combined 10 over in the two final rounds and did not make a birdie in either. Still, truly remarkable success in this day and age for a player who ranks outside the top 200 in driving distance. Will be his first PGA Championship in five years.

20. Sungjae Im
Age: 22 World ranking: 25 PGA Championship appearances: 2
Best PGA Championship finish: T-42, 2018
The tour’s road warrior—he does not own a home in the U.S. and simply travels from tournament site to tournament site—was one of the hottest players on the planet before COVID, winning the Honda Classic and finishing third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Showed well in his first start after the restart, finishing T-10 at Colonial, but then went MC/T-58/T-53/63/MC coming to Memphis. Reason would suggest this is a blip in the road more than anything, and that a player of Im’s caliber and demeanor will bounce back before long. Still sits in the top five in the FedEx Cup standings and has everything to play for this year. Missed the cut by a single shot at Bethpage last year and has missed the cut in three of his first four major appearances.

19. Collin Morikawa
Age: 23 World ranking: 12 PGA Championship appearances: Rookie
Hard to believe that at the time of last year’s PGA (May 2019), Morikawa was still a senior at Berkeley, worrying about balancing his last college tournaments with polishing off his business administrations degree. He arrives at this year’s PGA a two-time PGA Tour winner, the world’s No. 12 player and perhaps the brightest young star in a game full of them. Made 23 straight cuts to start his pro career­—lots of business, and money, to administrate—before missing his first at the Travelers last month. Won his very next start at the Workday Charity Open, beating Justin Thomas in an epic playoff. Leads the tour in the all-important strokes gained/approach category, and the eye test backs it up: he might be the best iron player in the world. If the putter gets hot—he ranks outside the top 100 in strokes gained/putting—the Los Angeles native absolutely is a threat to win a major championship in his home state.

18. Gary Woodland
Age: 36 World ranking: 21 PGA Championship appearances: 8
Best PGA Championship finish: T6, 2018
A popular winner at last year’s U.S. Open, Woodland does not miss many cuts and has some very positive memories to draw on at TPC Harding Park. In 2015, as the No. 50 seed, he advanced all the way to the final of the WGC-Match Play before losing to Rory McIlroy. Ranks eighth in strokes gained/approach and ninth in birdie average, and you like his chances if he doesn’t have to hit driver too often, which he shouldn’t this week. Has three top 10s in his last five starts in majors, including top 10s in each of the past two PGAs. A semi-sleeper indeed.

PGA Championship - Round OnePhoto by Andy Lyons

17. Jason Day
Age: 32 World ranking: 42 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2015
Former World No. 1 is in what feels like a constant struggle against back issues. Finally played well in a tour event (actually two) at his home club, Muirfield Village, going T-7 in the Workday Charity Open and T-4 at the Memorial. Those were his first back-to-back top 10s since February 2019. Loves himself a PGA Championship, with six top-10 finishes in nine starts, including a win at Whistling Straits and a runner-up at Baltusrol the year after. Short game remains his strength, as he currently leads the tour in strokes gained/around the green. Recent split with swing coach Colin Swatton creates new variable. Still, should his back hold up in the cool Bay Area air, he’s every bit capable of finding himself on the first page of the leader board come Sunday afternoon.

16. Tommy Fleetwood
Age: 29 World ranking: 13 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-35, 2018
Waited at home in England while the PGA Tour restarted and just made his first start since the hiatus at the 3M Open, where he showed a good deal of rust in missing the cut by three. Finished 2019 strong, winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge on the European Tour’s Rolex Series and finishing second in the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. Had a great chance to win his first event in America at February’s Honda Classic before rinsing his approach into the 72nd hole and finishing third. One of the game’s top drivers and has runner-ups in majors in each of the past two years at the 2019 British Open and the 2018 U.S. Open, where he missed an eight-footer for 62 which would have put him in a playoff. Has made 10 straight cuts in majors. The only question mark coming into this week is readiness—this will be just his third event in four months.

15. Matthew Fitzpatrick
Age: 25 World ranking: 18 PGA Championship appearances: 4
Best PGA Championship finish: T-41, 2019
Young Englishman is playing his first full season on the PGA Tour and has three top 10s to show for it, including a solo third at the Memorial on the strength of a preposterously good final-round 68, and was T-6 heading into Sunday in Memphis. Has emerged as something of a tough-course specialist—in addition to his field-best 68 at Muirfield Village, his 69 on Sunday at Bay Hill was also better than anyone else managed in the final round. Also made the cut in each of the four majors last year, finishing no worse than T-41. Has struggled with PGA Championship setups in the past­ as he’s not the longest hitter, and PGAs of recent vintage have certainly played into the hands of the bomber. Did shoot 65 in the second round at Bethpage, so it’s not impossible. Still, you get the sense he may like his chances of hosting the trophy more at Winged Foot.

14. Tiger Woods
Age: 44 World ranking: 15 PGA Championship appearances: 20
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007
Much uncertainty surrounds the biggest star in the sport. He has played just one event in the last six months, a nondescript T-40 at the Memorial that was noteworthy only because he looked physically uncomfortable on Friday. Body looked fine on the weekend but the putting stroke did not, and he spoke all week about the adjustment between putting at home and putting on the tour. Still an elite iron player, which should bode well at TPC Harding Park, and he could not have fared better in his two appearances at the course—won the 2005 WGC-American Express and went 5-0-0 in the 2009 Presidents Cup. Has missed more cuts at the PGA than any other major, including three of the last four, though the one time he did make the weekend resulted in a T-2 at Bellerive in 2018. The reason? Typically they’re long courses with plenty of rough, and Woods strength is with his irons, not the driver. Cool, damp weather wouldn’t seem to be ideal for his surgically repaired back. Opted against getting playing in Memphis to rest his back and get to the Bay Area early. Haven’t been too many signs that he’s ready to win a major but surely we have learned to stop doubting this man by now.

tiger-woods-2017-hero-world-challenge-wacker.jpgPhoto by Ryan Young/Getty Images

13. Tony Finau
 30 World ranking: 17 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2015
Since the beginning of the 2016-’17 season, only five players have racked up at least 30 top 10s on the PGA Tour. Tony Finau is one of them. The other four have combined to win 29 times in that span. Finau has won zero in that span. Continues to cash big checks and has contended at all different types of golf courses, but this winless drought—he’s stuck on one PGA Tour victory, which came at the Puerto Rico Open in 2016—has persisted so long that you have to wonder if it’s in his head. Had a good chance to win twice in July, holding a four-shot lead on Saturday at the Memorial before blowing up over the last 27 holes and holding the solo lead on Sunday of the 3M Championship before a lack of birdies saw him get leapfrogged by Michael Thompson. Recently split with longtime caddie Greg Bodine and will have Mark Urbanek on the bag this week at Harding Park as he looks for a full-time replacement. No reason to believe his much-overdue victory won’t be a major.

12. Dustin Johnson
Age: 36 World ranking: 5 PGA Championship appearances: 10
Best PGA Championship finish: 2, 2019
Been a roller coaster and a half recently. Won the Travelers Championship in June for his 21st PGA Tour victory, then shot 80-80 at the Memorial, then opened with 78 and withdrew from the 3M Open with a back injury. Always plays the majors well and the PGA is no exception—he has five top 10s in 10 career appearances and nearly chased down Brooks Koepka in the final round last year at Bethpage Black. While he still hardly ever misses a cut, he hasn’t been the consistent contender he was during his 2016-’18 peak, with only three top fives in his last 20 starts. One of the harder players to predict week-to-week, as he’ll disappear from relevance for a while then come out and win.

11. Abraham Ancer
Age: 29 World ranking: 23 PGA Championship appearances: 1
Best PGA Championship finish: T-16, 2019
What’s the saying? It’s not the size of the dog in the fight … 5’7” Mexican native fears nobody, with two runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour this year. Broke out as a star at last December’s Presidents Cup, where he won three of his first four matches before running into a buzzsaw named Tiger Woods. Fares best on courses that prioritize iron play over distance—he’s not short, per se, but ranks around 80th in driving distance—and TPC Harding Park fits the bill. Still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, so why not make it a major?

10. Patrick Cantlay
Age: 28 World ranking: 10 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-3, 2019
Fantastic ball-striker has emerged as one of the more consistent players in professional golf. Leads the PGA Tour with 18 consecutive cuts made and has not finished outside the top 35 in his last eight starts on Tour. His is a game built for the major championships—he made the cut in all four last year, including holding the back-nine lead on Sunday of the Masters and quietly finishing T-3 at Bethpage. Also carries himself with a steely, ice-in-his-veins calmness on the course. Ranks seventh in strokes gained/approach and sixth in strokes gained/overall. Two very poor rounds to start in Memphis but fired a Saturday 65, so no reason to panic. Projects as a future major winner and could well happen this week, in his home state of California. Not a bad pick in the slightest.

1204484003Photo by Michael Reaves

9. Tyrrell Hatton
Age: 28 World ranking: 14 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: T-10, 2016/2018
Does not play much, but few have fared as well when he does indeed tee it up. Actually, according to the stats, no one has—he led the tour in strokes/gained overall giong into Memphis. Also led the tour in strokes gained/putting and birdie average, iswassecond in strokes gained/approach and third in scoring average. Has played only five events in 2020 but had finished T-6 or better in all of them, including a victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, prior to a disappointing showing in Memphis. Followed his win up with a T-3 at the RBC Heritage in his first appearance since the re-start and T-4 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Does not blink when in contention and seems to have the Closing Gene in a big way. Might not be a household name in the U.S. yet but do not be surprised in the slightest if he books a late tee time on Sunday afternoon in San Francisco.

8. Patrick Reed
Age: 29 World ranking: 8 PGA Championship appearances: 6
Best PGA Championship finish: T-2, 2017
Love him or hate him—we’ll guess which side you’re closer to—he’s got eight PGA Tour victories and a major before his 30th birthday. Plays more than any other elite player and in January played back-to-back-to-back events in San Diego, Saudi Arabia and Los Angeles. Not hugely relevant, but worth knowing. One of the best short games in the world and might be the game’s best bunker player. Won his first World Golf Championship in Mexico in February, beating virtually all the best players in the world and not hurting his confidence. Not the type to back down from a challenge or a showdown, you have to like his chances should he play his way into contention on Sunday. Comes in off a solid top 10 at the Memorial. Went 2-1 in his group play matches at TPC Harding Park in the 2015-WGC Match Play but did not make the knockout rounds.

7. Rory McIlroy
Age: 31 World ranking: 3 PGA Championship appearances: 11
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2012, 2014
Was the undisputed No. 1 when COVID hit, as he’d run off seven straight finishes of T-5 or better, including a victory at the WGC-HSBC Champions. Made the cut in his first four since the restart, but when you’re a player of Rory McIlroy’s caliber, making cuts doesn’t mean much. He hasn’t sniffed contention in any of those four tournaments and got off to a rough start in Memphis. Jon Rahm overtook his spot atop the World Rankings at the Memorial—McIlroy’s not one to overreact to that, but surely that is a motivator of sorts. Birdies haven’t been the problem recently; avoiding round- and tournament-killing mistakes have been. Case in point: his first three rounds in Mempihs were 73-66-73. Had a very disappointing majors season last year despite top 10s in the PGA and the U.S. Open—he was never a real factor in either. High standards, we’re aware, but his play merits them. Major drought is six years running, last of his four coming at this tournament in Valhalla in 2014. Should draw loads of confidence from his victory at TPC Harding Park in the 2015 WGC-Match Play and has a great chance to win any golf tournament he enters. This, of course, is no different.

Rory McIlroy smilePhoto by David Cannon

6. Xander Schauffele
Age: 26 World ranking: 11 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-16, 2019
Apart from Brooks Koepka, no one has played the majors better in the past three years. Has five finishes of T-6 or better in his first 11 major starts, though none of those have come in the PGA. Ranks seventh in strokes gained/off the tee and 16th in strokes gained/approach, a combination that sees him almost never miss a cut. Has a remarkably stoic demeanor on the course and seems to hang around all week, which bodes well for big events. Finished T-3 at Colonial and had three straight top 20s at the Travelers, Workday Charity Open and the Memorial, and faring just fine in Memphis. San Diego-area native can get his major tally started with a victory in his home state this week.

5. Bryson DeChambeau
Age: 26 World ranking: 7 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-33, 2017
His quarantine blow-up has taken the golf world by storm. Showed up to Colonial with 40 additional pounds of muscle and both his 250-pound body and his long-drive-guy swing are hardly recognizable from the guy who won the U.S. Amateur in 2015. He’s turned himself into the longest hitter on the PGA Tour and is singlehandedly reigniting the debate over rolling back equipment. The reason: he’s not just hitting it long. He’s hitting it straight, and he’s contending. Went T-3/T-8/T-6 in his first three starts post-COVID, then won the Rocket Mortgage Classic with a devastating display of power, averaging more than 350 yards for the week. Ranks second in strokes gained/overall and, perhaps a bit surprisingly, 14th in strokes gained/putting. Had a streak of six straight finishes of T-8 or better broken with a missed cut at the Memorial, largely the result of making a 10 on Friday. Worth noting that despite his six PGA Tour wins and ranking inside the top 10 in the world, his best finish in 14 career major-championship appearances is a T-15 at the 2016 U.S. Open. A popular question since DeChambeau’s transformation has been how his game would hold up in a major championships setup, with penal rough and firm greens. We’re about to find out.

4. Webb Simpson
Age: 34 World ranking: 4 PGA Championship appearances: 9
Best PGA Championship finish: T-13, 2016
There’s an argument for him being the best player in the world over the past 12 months. Has two wins already this year, edging Tony Finau at the Waste Management Phoenix Open and making five birdies in his last seven holes to snatch the RBC Heritage. Armbar putting stroke has revived his career, as his putting has gone from a debilitating weakness to nothing short of a weapon. Also an elite iron player and avoids mental mistakes. Hasn’t always played well at PGA Championships—he has no top 10s in nine career appearances—but this shorter, penal setup should play into his hands. Won his lone major on another shorter, penal golf course just across Lake Merced, winning the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic.

3. Jon Rahm
 25 World ranking: 2 PGA Championship appearances: 3
Best PGA Championship finish: T-4, 2018
A major could not have come sooner for the newly minted just bumped No. 1 player in the world. Took the top spot from Rory McIlroy with a dominant win at the Memorial, where he showed a newfound patience that should worry his competitors, only to have Justin Thomas wrestle it away in Memphis. Rahm lives near the top of leader boards, having 37 top-10 finishes in his first 85 starts on the PGA Tour and 12 top 10s in 17 non-major, non-WGC starts on the European Tour. He’s a force, simply put. No holes in his game—hits it long and straight, solid iron player, fantastic touch around the greens and a wonderfully instinctual putter. Biggest (only?) question mark with him has been demeanor—he’s fiery, but in the past it has crept over the edge into detrimental territory. Got married over the winter and says that’s been hugely beneficial for his off-course live, and he does seem an overall happier person than at this time last year. Has four top 10s in his last eight majors but also three MCs, including last year at Bethpage. Curiously poor week in Memphis, shooting 74 in the second round to fall miles off the pace. His major breakthrough is inevitable, and he’ll love his chances at TPC Harding Park. Could well be his time.

2. Brooks Koepka
 30 World ranking: 6 PGA Championship appearances: 7
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2018, 2019
It all boils down to your criterion of choice. If we look at Koepka’s recent finishes in majors, he can’t be anything but the favorite this week. In his last seven starts in the big four, he has three victories, two runner-ups and a T-4. If we look at Koepka’s history at PGA Championships, he can’t be anything but the favorite this week. In his last four appearances, he has two victories, a T-4 and a T-5. If you prefer to look at the last few months, it's not quite so simple. He missed three months toward the end of last year with a knee issue and says it’s still giving him problems, which is concerning. Picked up his first top 10 since last year's Tour Championship at the RBC Heritage, then went MC/T-62/MC in his next three starts, then contended all the way until a 72nd-hole water ball in Memphis. Always seems to find another gear when major weeks roll around, and has the chance to join rare company with three-peat in a major, something that hasn’t been done since the 1950s. We must know better than to count out Brooks Koepka at a major.

noty-justin-thomas-pga-championship-trophy-wider.jpgPhoto by Charlotte Observer

1. Justin Thomas
: 27 World ranking: 1 PGA Championship appearances: 5
Best PGA Championship finish: Win, 2017
Missed this tournament last year with a wrist injury, so he’ll be chomping at the bit to add a second PGA Championship to his ever-growing trophy case. After winning the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational on Sunday, now has 13 PGA Tour wins and is back to world No. 1. So, the formula says he's the best in the world. And you'd do well to someone in better form at the moment, with five wins in his last seven starts. Also had one hand on the trophy at last month’s Workday Charity Open before losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Hasn’t performed quite as well in majors as he has in regular tournaments, with just three top 10s in 17 starts in the big four. Checks all the boxes statistically and leads the tour in strokes gained/tee-to-green. Has been on a bit of an odd cadence recently—he’s missed three cuts this year, but every other start except the Memorial has been a top 10. Will have Jim 'Bones' Mackay, Phil Mickelson's caddie of over 25 years, on the bag this week as his normal looper is resting after dizzy spells in Ohio. If Memphis is any indication, that partnership is off to an ideal start. Knows he needs to add to his major tally if he’s going to progress from great player to all-time great player and has a fantastic chance to do so this week.


Other stories