There’ll be no hiding from the spotlight at Southern Hills with Rory McIlroy playing in the marquee grouping with Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth in the first two rounds.
McIlroy finished runner-up at the Masters and is trying to win his first major since 2014, but the world No. 7 and two-time PGA champion’s storyline will almost take a back seat to his two playing partners when they tee off the 10th hole at 14:11 Ireland time on Thursday.
On the group, McIlroy said: “It’s exciting. It’s a cool group to be a part of. I like that the corridors of this golf course are quite wide, so it’s not like the fans are going to be right on top of us. It’ll be noisy. It’ll be good, especially Friday afternoon.”
“There’s two ways of looking at it. It does focus you right from the get-go, but you probably have to deal with some other stuff that in another group you wouldn’t have to.”
Woods is playing in his second major since returning after more than a year off recovering from injuries suffered in a severe car crash. He won the last major played at Southern Hills in the 2007 PGA Championship.
Spieth has a victory and runner-up in his two starts since his shocking missed cut at the Masters. The world No. 9 is in fine form as he chases the final piece of his career slam.
Going off the first hole five minutes earlier at 14:06 Thursday is 2008 PGA champion Pádraig Harrington, playing with fellow major winners Stewart Cink and Jason Dufner.
In the afternoon wave in Tulsa, Irishmen Séamus Power and Shane Lowry also play opposite each other on the course.
Power starts on the 10th hole Thursday at 18:58 Ireland time with Russell Knox and Scott Stallings.
Lowry goes off No. 1 Thursday at 19:03 in the first of the marquee late pairings with fellow major winners Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott.