The First Look: PGA Championship
May 10, 2019
By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM
- May 10, 2019
- Brooks Koepka is the defending champion at the PGA Championship. (Getty Images)
Tiger Woods tees it up for the first time since his momentous Masters triumph – and subsequent Presidential Medal of Freedom – as the PGA Championship raises the curtain on its new May date, with Bethpage Black serving as host.
Brooks Koepka makes the first of his two major title defenses in 2019, seeking to become the PGA’s first back-to-back champion since Woods in 2006-07. Jordan Spieth, meantime, makes his third run at completing the career Grand Slam.
FIELD NOTES: Phil Mickelson, runner-up at both U.S. Opens held at Bethpage Black (2002, 2009), is set for his 102nd major start since turning professional. … One spot in the field remains for the winner of this week’s AT&T Byron Nelson, if not already qualified. … The field includes 69 international players, representing 27 different nations. … All but two of the top 65 in the FedExCup standings have entered, missing only No. 59 Patrick Rodgers and No. 64 J.T. Poston. … The lineup also includes the top 20 finishers from the PGA Professional Championship earlier this month.
FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 600 points.
STORYLINES: Woods, with that elusive 15th major title finally in the bag, now goes after a 16th on a Bethpage Black layout where he won the 2002 U.S. Open. He has not hit a competitive shot since leaving Augusta, opting for rest instead of his usual start at Quail Hollow. … Koepka seeks a fourth major title in a 23-month span, coming off a runner-up finish to Woods at Augusta. He’s finished outside the top 15 in a major just once in that stretch. … A Spieth victory would make him just the sixth to accomplish the career Grand Slam, and second-youngest to do it after Woods. However, he’s still in search of his first top-20 finish of 2019. … With the move to May, the PGA Championship ventures outside the July-August window for just the second time in 70 years. The other came in 1971, played in February in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. … The top 60 in the world rankings after Sunday’s finish receive automatic berths into next month’s U.S. Open. No. 60 Sungjae Im is on the bubble; Emiliano Grillo (61st) and Chez Reavie (63rd) are trying to move in.
COURSE: Bethpage State Park (Black), 7,432 yards, par 70. Taking its third bow on the major championship stage, the 1936 A.W. Tillinghast gem was a bit of a New York secret until the 2002 U.S. Open. Woods won that crown, posting the only under-par score of the tournament, and Lucas Glover captured a rain-soaked U.S. Open upon its return in 2009. Since then, the Black Course has become part of THE NORTHERN TRUST rotation with host duties in 2012 and ’16. A famous sign greets golfers near the first tee warning only “highly skilled” golfers should play the Black, and its reputation attracted pros such as Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen and Byron Nelson early on for a trial. Snead famously called it “an unfair test” after beating Nelson in a 1940 exhibition. The 2024 Ryder Cup will be contested at Bethpage Black.
72-HOLE RECORD: 264, Brooks Koepka (2018 at Bellerive CC).
18-HOLE RECORD: 63, Bruce Crampton (2nd round, 1975 at Firestone CC), Raymond Floyd (1st round, 1982 at Southern Hills), Gary Player (2nd round, 1984 at Shoal Creek), Michael Bradley (1st round, 1993 at Inverness), Vijay Singh (2nd round, 1993 at Inverness), Brad Faxon (4th round, 1995 at Riviera CC), José María Olazábal (3rd round, 2000 at Valhalla), Mark O’Meara (2nd round, 2001 at Atlanta AC), Thomas Bjorn (3rd round, 2005 at Baltusrol), Tiger Woods (2nd round, 2007 at Southern Hills), Steve Stricker (1st round, 2011 at Atlanta AC), Jason Dufner (2nd round, 2013 at Oak Hill), Hiroshi Iwata (2nd round, 2015 at Whistling Straits), Robert Streb (2nd round, 2016 at Baltusrol), Brooks Koepka (2nd round, 2018 at Bellerive), Charl Schwartzel (2nd round, 2018 at Bellerive).
LAST YEAR: Koepka became a major champion for the third time in 14 months, posting a record-setting performance to hold off Woods’ electrifying Sunday at Bellerive. With cheers for the resurgent Woods ringing out across the terrain, Koepka took control with three straight birdies to end the front nine and added two more at Nos. 15 and 16 to open enough cushion. He finished with a 4-under-par 66, and his total of 264 matched Henrik Stenson’s week at the 2016 Open Championship. Paired with his two U.S. Open titles, Koepka became just the fifth man to capture three majors before the age of 30. Woods finished two shots back after a 64, his best final round in any major.
HOW TO FOLLOW
TELEVISION: Thursday, 1-7 p.m. ET (TNT). Friday, 1-7:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. (TNT), 2-7 p.m. (CBS).
Click here to watch the 2019 PGA Championship live stream.
PGA TOUR LIVE: None.
RADIO: Thursday-Friday, noon-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 1-7 p.m. (SiriusXM).