Ten of the leading contenders for the US PGA Championship (listed in predicted order of finish)
DUSTIN JOHNSON (34, United States)
Sentry Tournament of Championship, FedEx St. Jude Classic, RBC Canadian Open. Majors: US Open (2016).
Masters-T10, US Open-3, British Open-MC.
Tie for 5th in 2010 at Whistling Straits after two-shot penalty for grounding his club in a bunker on the 18th hole.
Hard to believe he still only has one major, and maybe that’s due to change. Already has won three times this year and two other times had at least a share of the 54-hole lead. Bellerive is a tree-lined power course that should suit him well provided he doesn’t try to force it, especially on the greens.
RICKIE FOWLER (29, USA)
Masters-2, US Open-T20, British Open-T28.
Tie for 3rd in 2014 at Valhalla, where he had a long eagle putt to force a playoff and three-putted for par.
This is his last chance to win a major in his 20s. The key is for him to get off to a good start, not only on Thursday but on Sunday if he’s in contention. What has kept Fowler from winning majors is going backward on Sunday and making a charge when it’s too late.
RORY MCILROY (29, N Ireland)
Arnold Palmer Invitational.
US Open (2011), British Open (2014), PGA Championship (2012, 2014).
Masters-T5, US Open-MC, British Open-T2.
: Won by 8 shots at Kiawah Island in 2012 and won by one shot at Valhalla in 2014.
Of players on the rise this year, McIlroy is closer than it might seem. He played in the final group at the Masters, and he was the only player to break par all four rounds at Carnoustie. Summer heat typically means soft conditions, which is typically right up his alley.
JORDAN SPIETH (25, USA)
Masters (2015), US Open (2015), British Open (2017).
Masters-3, US Open-MC, British Open-T9.
Runner-up in 2015 at Whistling Straits.
This is his second chance to complete the career Grand Slam, and history shows that players with such an opportunity get it done sooner rather than later in the modern configuration of majors. Spieth’s best two events this year were majors, and he lost a share of the 54-hole lead at the British Open. His game would appear to be trending upward after Carnoustie.
BROOKS KOEPKA (28, USA)
US Open (2017, 2018).
Masters-DNP, US Open-1, British Open-T39.
Tie for 4th in 2016 at Baltusrol, where he was coming off an ankle injury and secured spot on the Ryder Cup team.
He doesn’t have as many worldwide wins as other multiple major champions, but Koepka plays his best in the biggest events. He has finished among the top 15 in 11 of his last 16 majors, and even at the British Open, he rallied from a 41 on the opening nine Thursday to get into the mix going into the weekend.
TIGER WOODS (42, USA)
Masters (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005), US Open (2000, 2002, 2008), British Open (2000, 2005, 2006), PGA Championship (1999, 2000, 2006, 2007).
Masters-T32, US Open-MC, British Open-T6.
Won twice at Medinah by one shot (1999) and five shots (2006), in a playoff at Valhalla (2000) and by two shots at Southern Hills (2007).
Woods had the lead on Sunday at a major for the first time since 2007 until one bad hole at the British Open derailed him, typical of other times he has contended in this remarkable year of his comeback from a fourth back surgery. His performance at Carnoustie made believers of most people that he can win another major.
FRANCESCO MOLINARI (35, Italy)
BMW PGA Championship, Quicken Loans National, British Open.
British Open (2018).
Masters-T20, US Open-T25, British Open-1.
A runner-up in 2017 at Quail Hollow by two shots despite a 73 in the first round and a 74 in the third round.
Will try to join Pádraig Harrington as the only European to win the British Open and PGA Championship in the same year. Molinari is the hottest player in the world and has a game for every course — Wentworth, the TPC Potomac and links golf at Carnoustie.
JUSTIN ROSE (38, England)
US Open (2013).
Masters-T12, US Open-T10, British Open-T2.
Tie for 3rd at Kiawah Island in 2012, when he closed with a 66 to finish 9 shots behind. Has never seriously contended in the PGA.
Rose belongs in the category of Molinari and Johnson as players in the best form over the last nine months with four victories. Made an 18-foot birdie putt on the 36th hole at Carnoustie to make the cut and finished two shots behind to tie for second. Among the best drivers, though his putting can be suspect.
JUSTIN THOMAS (25, USA)
PGA Championship (2017).
Masters-T17, US Open-T25, British Open-MC.
Won at Quail Hollow in 2017 with three key birdies on the back nine, including a 7-iron over the water on No. 17 to seal it.
He has achieved a goal of making his bad golf better, with only two finishes out of the top 25. One of them was a missed cut at the British Open, courtesy of three straight double bogeys on the front nine. He can join Woods as the only players to win back-to-back at the PGA Championship in stroke play.
PATRICK REED (27, USA)
Masters-1, US Open-4, British Open-T28.
A runner-up at Quail Hollow in 2017 when he closed with a 67 and came up a birdie short of applying pressure on Thomas.
He was tied for the lead briefly at the US Open, but his run in the majors was slowed at Carnoustie. Reed tends to run hot-and-cold this year, with four missed cuts and a pair of runner-up finishes to go along with his green jacket. Not since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 has a player won the Masters and PGA in the same year.