The season’s second major golf championship gets underway this week with the 105th edition of the PGA Championship.
Contested at historic Oak Hill in Rochester, New York, the always-underrated major promises to be a table setter for the final three months of the season.
The 156-player field includes many of the world’s top-ranked players but will not include several marquee LIV names, such as Sergio Garcia, due to apparent collusion within the golf establishment.
One LIV Golf star teeing it up this week is 2021 PGA champion Phil Mickelson. The six-time major winner will be joined by 16 LIV Golf league cohorts, including three of the world’s ten-best players in reigning British Open champion Cam Smith, four-time major winner Brooks Koepka and two-time major champion Dustin Johnson, who enters off a win last week in Tulsa.
Justin Thomas, in the midst of a lengthy slump, will defend.
Other storylines include: Jordan Spieth, who appeared well positioned to complete the career Grand Slam, enters in questionable condition, off an injury. Can world No.1 Jon Rahm continue his dominance as he looks for his second major of the season?
Or what about Rory McIlroy: can he finally win a fifth major, and a third Wanamaker trophy? Can Justin Thomas bust out of his year-long winless streak with back-to-back PGAs? Will Patrick Cantlay close the deal and finally win a major?
Additional storylines are many and overflowing, involving the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama and Xander Schauffele, among others.
Will the winner be one who’s historic, or a one-time supernova who was part of history?
Since 2000, the list of players to hoist golf’s biggest trophy include longshots and journeymen such as Rich Beem, Shaun Micheel, Y.E. Yang, Keegan Bradley, Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker. But it’s also included top-ranked stars like Woods three times, Koepka, McIlroy, Thomas, and Mickelson twice, as well as Jason Day, and Morikawa once each.
Here’s more on what to expect this week in New York for the 105th PGA Championship.
PGA Championship At-a-Glance
2023 PGA Championship
Dates: May 18-21, 2023
Where: Rochester, NY
Course: Oak Hill (East)
Distance: Par 70, 7394 yards
Architect: Donald Ross (1923)
Redesign: Robert Trent Jones Sr. (1962)
Restoration: Tom Fazio (1988, 2002)
Restoration: Andrew Green (2019)
Field: 156 players
Format: 72/36 stroke-play
Winning Share: $3,600,000
Trophy: Wanamaker Trophy
2022 Champion: Justin Thomas
How to Follow the PGA Championship
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More coverage of the 2023 PGA Championship:
- 2022 PGA Championship Power Rankings
- The 15 Greatest Golfers in PGA Championship History
- Photos: 2023 PGA Championship
PGA Championship History
Today’s PGA Championship can be credited to the work of business mogul Rodman Wanamaker 107 years ago in New York City, who gathered a collection of golf professionals, which led to the formation of the PGA.
The first winner of the iconic tournament was Englishman Jim Barnes, who beat the great Scotsman Jock Hutchison, 1 up, in 1916 at Siwanoy Country Club in Bronxville, New York. Barnes walked away with the Wanamaker trophy, a check for $500 and a diamond-studded gold medal donated by Wanamaker.
The next two editions were canceled due to the first world war, but Barnes returned n 1919 to successfully defend his PGA title.
Barnes, who has been called the ‘Great Forgotten Champion,’ would go on to win the 1921 U.S. Open and 1925 British Open. (The Masters was not founded until 1934.)
The PGA Championship was a match play event for its first 39 editions, but by the late 50s due to the advent of TV and many of the big names (Snead, Hogan) no longer dominating, the PGA was pressured by network television broadcasters to switch to stroke play.
For most of the modern stroke-play era, the championship was played in mid-August on the third weekend before Labor Day, serving as the fourth and final major of the golf season, using a tagline of “Glory’s Last Shot.”
In 2013, the tagline had been dropped in favor of “The Season’s Final Major”, as suggested by PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem who felt the slogan weakened the stature of its season-ending money grab: the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Beginning in 2019, the tournament was moved to May to provide a better flow to the golf season – with the PGA Tour’s two flagship events: The Players Championship (Mar.) and The Tour Championship (Aug.) bookending four consecutive months of majors (April: Masters, May: PGA, June: U.S. Open, July: British Open).
The Wanamaker Trophy stands nearly 2.5 feet tall and weighs 27 pounds. The trophy was lost, briefly, for a few years until it showed up in 1930 in the cellar of L.A. Young and Company. Ironically, this cellar was in the factory which made the clubs for the man responsible for losing it, Walter Hagen.
Hagen claimed to have trusted a taxi driver with the precious cargo, but it never returned to his hotel. There is a smaller replica trophy that the champion gets to keep permanently, but the original must be returned for the following years tournament.
Notable winners of the Wanamaker Trophy in the match-play era include Hagen, Gene Sarazen, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, and Ben Hogan. Legends who won the PGA in the stroke-play era include Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Gary Player, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who won his second in 2021 at the age of 51, becoming the oldest major winner in history.
Hagen and Nicklaus share the record for most PGA Championships with five apiece. Two surprising names missing from the winner’s list are Arnold Palmer and Tom Watson, who had close calls, but were never able to claim victory and close the door on the career grand slam.
History: Recent Winners
2022: Justin Thomas (-5)*
2021: Phil Mickelson (-6)
2020: Collin Morikawa (-13)
2019: Brooks Koepka (-8)
2018: Brooks Koepka (-16)
2017: Justin Thomas (-8)
2016: Jimmy Walker (-14)
2015: Jason Day (-20)
2014: Rory McIlroy (-16)
2013: Jason Dufner (-10)
2012: Rory McIlroy (-13)
* Won in playoff
264 – Brooks Koepka (2018)
-20 – Jason Day (2015)
8 – Rory McIlroy (2012)
20 – Gene Sarazen (1922)
51 – Phil Mickelson (2021)
5 – Walter Hagen (1921, 1924-27)
5 – Jack Nicklaus (1963, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1980)
4 – Tiger Woods (1999-00, 2006-07)
4 – Jack Nicklaus (1964, 1965, 1974, 1983)
The Course: Oak Hill (East Course)
The club has a rich history, starting out in 1901 a 9-holer, located on the banks of the Genesee River in Rochester (NY). The clubhouse was no more than a converted farmhouse.
By 1921, Oak Hill had doubled in size, so when the University of Rochester proposed a land swap in 1921, the country club approved, and moved the club to a 355-acre plot in nearby Pittsford.
The East Course, which hosts the major tournaments, was built around the east branch of Allen Creek, which acts as a lateral hazard on nine of its 18 holes.
Consistently recognized as one of the finest and most difficult courses in the world, the East Course at Oak Hill Country Club was originally designed by famed architect Donald Ross and opened for play in 1924.
It has had several changes made over the years, first by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. in the early 1960s, later (and more recently for the 1989 Open and 2003 PGA) by Tom Fazio and his design group.
In 2019, Andrew Green led a restoration effort to more closely align the East Course with Ross’ original vision. The East Course has played host to six major championships and the 1995 Ryder Cup. In 2023, the PGA Championship will be contested at Oak Hill for the fourth time (1980, 2003, 2013, 2023).
Interesting Nugget: In 1941, the Rochester Times-Union, a local paper at the time, posted a $5,000 purse for the Rochester Times-Union Open, which attracted some of the greatest golfers in the world, including Sam Snead, Walter Hagen, and Ben Hogan, among others. The PGA tour event, won by Snead (1941) and Hogan (1942), put Oak Hill on the map and the rest is history.
Interesting Nugget II: A 40-year-old Jack Nicklaus won his fifth PGA Championship and 17th (of 18) major trophy at Oak Hill. Nicklaus shot 66 and 69 on the weekend to finish 6 under, the only player in the field to finish in the red.
Brutal closing hole: a 497-yard par-4 that slims down to just 20 yards at the 300-yard mark. The green, guarded by three bunkers on the right, slopes severely from back-to-front. It is likely to be a very challenging finish.
Name: Oak Hill CC
Course: East Course
Stats: 18 Holes, Par 70, 7394 yards
Architect: Donald Ross (1923)
Restore: Andrew Green (2019)
Vault: 2022 PGA Championship
One of golf’s most prodigious winners was able to make one of the biggest Sunday charges of all-time on Sunday, as Justin Thomas secured his 15th career PGA Tour victory, and second major, at Tulsa’s Southern Hills Country Club.
Thomas’ final-round 67 tied two others for the lowest in the field, and his third 3-under round for the week was able to just enough make up for the damage caused by his difficult third round. He played the back-nine bogey free, limiting his mistakes, while the mistakes created from the largely inexperienced lead groups piled up. Mito Pereira’s 18th hole implosion did not hurt.
In the first playoff at the PGA Championship since 2011, and the first in any of the four majors since 2016, Thomas birdied the first two holes of the three-hole playoff, while Will Zalatoris played them birdie-par. Zalatoris then failed to get the birdie he needed on the third playoff hole, which was again on 18, and after landing safely on the green in two, Thomas two-putted for the win, placing an exclamation point at the end of an exciting, historic rally (watch).
And probably the most impressive aspect of this victory was that it had been accepted that Thomas had already lost his event, bringing about questions overnight about whether he had lost the edge that had made him such a great champion. Having “only” one major championship victory felt underwhelming, given his talent and resume.
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd 4)
1. Justin Thomas -5 (-3)*
2. Will Zalatoris -5 (+1)
3. Mito Pereira -4 (+5)
3. Cameron Young -4 (+1)
5. Matt Fitzpatrick -3 (+3)
5. Tommy Fleetwood -3 (-3)
5. Chris Kirk -3 (-2)
8. Rory McIlroy -2 (-2)
9. Abraham Ancer -1 (+3)
9. Tom Hoge -1 (-1)
9. Seamus Power -1 (+2)
9. Brendan Steele -1 (-2)
* Won in playoff
The PGA Championship Field
The field this week in upstate New York will include most of the world’s marquee players, headlined by world No.1 Jon Rahm, who enters in top form with four wins on the season, including the 2023 Masters.
The top-ranked Spaniard will be joined a bevy of superstars such as defending PGA champion Justin Thomas; six-time major champion Phil Mickelson; 2022 Masters winner Scottie Scheffler; reigning U.S. and British Open champions Matt Fitzpatrick and Cam Smith, respectively; two-time major champs Dustin Johnson and Collin Morikawa; three-time major winner Jordan Spieth; and four-time major title holders Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka.
The betting favorites this week are Rahm and Scheffler, who are listed at +800. A slumping McIlroy was next at +1400, followed by a trio of stars at +1800, who each enter in top form: Koepka, Cantlay and Schauffele.
The two Cams (Smith and Young) are listed at +2500, alongside two recent PGA Tour winners Jason Day (Byron Nelson) and Tony Finau (Mexico).
Defending champion, JT, is in the midst of a lengthy slump and offered at +2800, while DJ, Collin Morikawa and Viktor Hovland rounded out the top-15 betting favorites at +3000.
Other top offers include Fitzpatrick, Max Homa, Sung-Jae Im, and Tyrrell Hatton at +3500 while Jordan Spieth, who is questionable with a wrist injury, was +4000.
Field Analysis: Key Players
Jon Rahm – In terms of who’s playing the best among the best, it’s hands-down Rahm, who’s won six times (and two additional top-3s) in his 13 most recent starts, highlighted by a victory at the Masters. Rahm owns two top-10 finishes (T4, T8) in six career PGA Championship starts.
Cameron Smith – The 27-year-old Aussie, and greatest putter on the planet, enters in very good form (T2 Tulsa, T6 Singapore and T3 Australia). The reigning British Open champion has not fared too well at the PGA, though: a T13 (2022) and T25 (2015) are his only top-40 finishes in this event.
Scottie Scheffler – The world No. 2 enters in tip-top form, with thirteen consecutive top-12 finishes, highlighted by two victories, five other top-5s and three additional top-10s (Wow!)… In his last eight major starts, the Texan owns six top-10 finishes, including a maiden win at last season’s Masters.
Patrick Cantlay – The world No.4 has not been particularly stellar in majors, with just three top-10s in 21 starts… On the season, the 31-year-old UCLA product has only two results outside the top-25, with four top-4 finishes.
Brooks Koepka – The Florida State product does not need help getting himself hyped for majors, as he has consistently excelled on the biggest stages. In a three-season blitzkrieg (2017-2019), Koepka won four times while finishing runner-up twice more. Starting in 2020, though, the two-time PGA winner has battled through a multitude of injuries which limited his play and hampered his once-dominant style. Now injury free, and in top form, Koepka returned to the major stage in April and finished T2 at the Masters. In his last five starts, Koepka owns four top-10s (1, 2, 3, 6), including three top-3s.
Dustin Johnson – Fully healed from an injury which hampered his game earlier in the season. Now (laughably) ranked 82nd in the world (due to OWGR/PGA Tour collusion), DJ enters off an overtime win in Tulsa and a solo 10th in Australia. The longtime world No.1 and two-time major winner could become just the 13th player in history to win three of the four legs of the grand slam.
Tony Finau – The Utah native arrives in New York off a win in Mexico, his fourth victory in 19 tour starts… Beginning in 2018, over a span of 13 major starts, Finau recorded an incredible nine top-10 finishes. Since then, though, he’s gone seven straight majors without a single top-10 result.
Xander Schauffele – The reigning Olympic gold medalist enters on heater, off four straight top-10s including three top-5s… While he has yet to win a major, Schauffele has consistently finished well in the biggest events, with ten top-10s in 23 major starts. Xander, Cantlay and Finau are the best players in the world without a major.
Jordan Spieth – The Texan is entering in questionable form due to an injury-related WD at last week’s Byron Nelson… Before the injury, though, the one-time “Golden Child” of golf was in solid form, having posted four top-5s in his seven most recent starts, highlighted by a T4 at the Masters and playoff loss at Hilton Head. The 29-year-old icon, who has twice finished inside the top 3 at the PGA Championship, seeks to become just the sixth player in history to complete the career grand slam.
Phil Mickelson – The 52-year-old superstar recorded his sixth major victory at the 2021 PGA Championship… Lefty, whose main priority these days is growing his LIV Golf brand and competing in majors, enters off a couple of poor results on the breakaway tour alongside a spectacular runner-up finish at the Masters. Phil cannot be counted out. Anywhere.
Jason Day – The 35-year-old Aussie enters off a win at the Byron Nelson, his first since 2018. Ranked inside the top 20 for the first time in four years, the former world No.1 seems to be fully back after several years of physical and emotional setbacks. He is elite once again.
Collin Morikawa – The two-time major winner opened 2023 with three top-6 finishes in his first four starts. But since then, the Cal native has posted just a single top-10 and enters off two consecutive poor results: T31 (Heritage) and MC (Fargo)… On the major stage, though, the 26-year-old seems unflappable, with two wins, three other top-5s and two more top-10s in just 13 career starts.
Cameron Young – The 26-year-old bomber from New York enters off a pair of terrible finishes (T59, T51) but before that he’d reeled off three top-10s in a four-start span… Finished T3 at the 2022 PGA. He seems so due for his first tour win.
Joaquin Niemann – The 24-year-old Chilean star followed up a T16 at the Masters with two consecutive top-10 finishes on the LIV Golf circuit. Currently ranked No.28 in the world, Niemann finished T23 at last year’s PGA.
Justin Thomas – The 15-time Tour winner has not landed in the winner’s circle since claiming his second PGA in May 2022, and does not look close to being his old self. The star who reeled off 13 wins in a five-season span (2016-2020) has won just twice in the last 33 months, albeit two biggies (The Players and PGA). The former top-result machine enters amid a season with just a single top-5 finish and only one other top-10 result.
Viktor Hovland – One of the youngest stars in the field, the 25-year-old Norwegian currently ranks 11th in the OWGR and enters off two poor finishes (T43, T59). Before that, though, he’d reeled off three straight top-10 finishes in three big-time events: T7 Masters, T3 Players, T10 Arnold Palmer… Finished T7 at this year’s Masters.
Max Homa – The 32-year-old L.A. native, and world No.6 (sounds crazy, huh?), is enjoying another dream season with two more wins (Silverado, Torrey Pines). Yet, as phenomenal as Homa’s been over the past few years, he’s been a complete no-show in the majors, with just one finish better than T40 in 14 career major starts.
Talor Gooch – The Oklahoma State product scored back-to-back LIV Golf titles and holds down the No.1 spot on the upstart tour’s season-long points standings… The talented Gooch made news last week when the USGA de-qualified him for next month’s U.S. Open.
Rory McIlroy – The little Northern Irishman won the CJ Cup back in the fall, but since the calendar flipped to 2023, the now 34-year-old has not played particularly well. He followed up a missed-cut at the Masters with a no-show at Hilton Head, costing himself $3 million, and then finished T47 at Quail Hollow, a course he usually owns… In six stroke-play starts on the year, McIlroy has more missed-cuts (2) than top-10s (1).
Sam Burns – The LSU product is enjoying another superb season with a win and three additional top-10s. Yet, despite five victories in less than three seasons, the world No.14 has struggled badly on the major stage. During this span, he’s entered eight majors and owns just a single top-25 result. He’s too good to continue with these major duds.
Hideki Matsuyama – The world No.24 has been up and down in 2023. A solo fifth at the Players Championship is his best result on the season… The 2021 Masters winner appears to be trending up, though, and enters off three consecutive top-25 finishes (T15, T16, T23).
Top-15 Betting Favorites
Odds Rank-Player (Odds)
1. Jon Rahm (8/1)
1. Scottie Scheffler (8/1)
3. Rory McIlroy (14/1)
4. Brooks Koepka (18/1)
4. Patrick Cantlay (18/1)
4. Xander Schauffele (18/1)
7. Cameron Smith (25/1)
7. Cameron Young (25/1)
7. Jason Day (25/1)
7. Tony Finau (25/1)
11. Justin Thomas (28/1)
12. Dustin Johnson (30/1)
12. Collin Morikawa (30/1)
12. Viktor Hovland (30/1)
15. Matt Fitzpatrick (35/1)
15. Max Homa (35/1)
15. Sung-Jae Im (35/1)
15. Tyrrell Hatton (35/1)
Full Field & Odds
Joel Cook contributed to this report. Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images, PGA Communications, Wikipedia