14 May 2024

2024 PGA Championship – Is It McIlroy’s time, or will Scheffler still be too good?

The second Major of the season is upon us, with a host of storylines surrounding the tournament and for once, it seems like the LIV Golf distraction may be dwindling. 

Four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy enters the tournament in fantastic form, while Scottie Scheffler remains Scottie Scheffler. But as a new parent, we wait to see how that will affect he game.

Tiger Woods also returns to action, while Brooks Koepka will be hoping to successfully defend the Wanamaker Trophy for the second time in his career. What a week it’s set to be at Valhalla.

Is Scheffler poised to extend his winning streak?

Scheffler has undeniably dominated the golf scene in recent years, clinching victory 10 times on the PGA Tour since his breakthrough in February 2022. Currently eyeing his fifth triumph in the last six events, Scheffler’s dominance was evident as he triumphed at the Arnold Palmer Invitational and successfully defended his title at The Players. His latest conquest at The Masters was then followed by another impressive win at the RBC Heritage a week later. Incredible.

Scheffler, the World No. 1, became a two-time winner of the Masters back in April

Drawing parallels to Tiger Woods at his prime, though Scheffler prefers to steer clear of such comparisons, his consistency is remarkable. His decision to skip the Wells Fargo Championship for the birth of his first child adds an intriguing dimension to how his game will fare in upcoming events.

Having secured a tied-second finish at last year’s PGA Championship, the American enters this year’s tournament as the favourite, fueling speculation about a potential ‘Scheffler slam’ should he clinch the title. With each victory, the talk of his similarities to Woods grows louder, and they will only increase again if he was to win at Valhalla.

Could this be McIlroy’s moment to break his major drought?

McIlroy commenced his PGA Tour season with a sluggish pace, but he seems to have found his stride at precisely the right time. The Northern Irishman enters this week’s competition aiming for a third consecutive victory, a feat he’s achieved before in his career.

Following his win alongside Shane Lowry at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, McIlroy secured a commanding five-shot triumph at the Wells Fargo Championship, marking his fourth career victory at the event. These wins add to his earlier success this year on the DP World Tour at the Hero Dubai Desert Classic. The talk of the 35-year-old having a poor season so far have quickly vanished.

McIlroy, above, won the Wells Fargo Championship last week

With these back-to-back victories, McIlroy now finds himself in a familiar position at Valhalla, reminiscent of a decade ago when he embarked on a similar streak. That streak culminated in a one-shot victory, clinching the Wanamaker Trophy for a second time and marking his most recent major win. With Scheffler possibly in a different mindset following the birth of his child, and McIlroy in good form – the stars may have aligned at just the right time for the European Ryder Cup star.

Is Koepka poised for another back-to-back victory?

Koepka stands as the most recent player to successfully defend a Major title, accomplishing this feat with a two-shot victory at the 2018 PGA Championship, followed by another triumph by the same margin at Bethpage Black a year later. Now, he eyes the opportunity to replicate this impressive achievement once more.

With previous back-to-back wins at the US Open under his belt as well, the American arrives at the event fresh off his historic victory in Singapore, where he became the first four-time champion in LIV Golf League history earlier this month.

Koepka is a three-time winner of the PGA Championship

At 34 years old, the American also boasts an impressive record of 17 top-10 finishes in Majors since the start of 2015. Another victory here would not only mark his fourth PGA Championship win, matching the likes of Woods, Sir Nick Faldo, and Phil Mickelson, but also elevate him to their esteemed company with six major titles to his name.

What’s in store for Tiger Woods?

Whenever the big cat steps onto the course, we all sit in anticipation with genuinely no clue as to what might happen. Now, the 15-time Major champion returns to a venue where he previously triumphed in 2000, marking a significant chapter in his career known as the ‘Tiger Slam’.

In recent years, Woods has grappled with well-documented injuries, resulting in a limited schedule. He withdrew ahead of the final round in 2022 at this event, and also opted out of last year’s contest at Oak Hill.

Woods pictured practicing at Valhalla this week

His recent performance at The Masters saw him finish at the bottom among those who made the cut. While he showcased glimpses of brilliance in the initial rounds, he faltered over the weekend with scores of 82 and 77. Updates on his recovery since then have been scarce.

Woods expressed his commitment to preparation ahead of the rest of the Major season and was spotted practicing at Valhalla last week. Believing in his ability to compete at the highest level, he aims to recapture past glory. Yet, the question lingers: Will his game and physical condition align with his ambitions? Let’s just enjoy seeing Tiger out on the course, once more.

 

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