PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy happy with consistency

Justin Thomas

Xander Schauffele never has represented his country in a golf competition. In 2001, The American Express World Golf Championship was scheduled to be played during September, but was later canceled due to the unfortunate events of 9/11.

Still, considering this year's field has 110 of the top 112 golfers in the world, the victor is more than likely going to be someone you know rather than someone you don't.

"That doesn't mean there's not going to be hard situations, but there's hard situations whenever you conduct a major championship", he said. "To be part of it would be really special".

The reigning PGA Championship victor averages 313.8 yards off the tee, putting him ninth on the PGA Tour in driving distance and within spitting distance of big hitters such as Dustin Johnson.

The PGA Championship's slogan used to read: "Glory's Last Shot".

Englishman Tommy Fleetwood is a player who's seemingly in contention every week, yet he's still searching for his first victory on USA soil and his first major championship. "He hadn't played in so long", Furyk said. Patrick Reed or Brooks Koepka would snare it with two major wins, while Justin Thomas or Bubba Watson would do the same with a major to combine with winning seasons. At the PGA Championship, 20 tournament spots go to the top 20 finishers in the PGA Professional Championship. With points counting double and a big purse, the victor is virtually assured a spot on the team.

Even if his standings shift this week, Furyk faces some interesting decisions.

Jim Furyk is closing in on his four captain's choices to round out the US Ryder Cup team, but the competition is still open and Tiger Woods remains in the mix. Matt Kuchar, who has made eight consecutive US teams, is 12th in the standings and in need of some good showings in the weeks ahead to be part of the team that will travel to the 42nd Ryder Cup Sept. 28-30 at Le Golf National outside Paris.

"If he were to make the team, he would be a popular choice for guys to pick", Furyk said. The 12th and final spot will be finalized after the following week's BMW Championship. Before, and as I was alluding to earlier, I didn't really have any of those issues when I was early in my career because I didn't have a fixed point in my back.

"I think this golf course, the way it's set up and the way it's playing, if there was ever a major championship to be able to play it semi blind, I think this is the course to do it on". You want that, as well. I will give two players to target from the $11K-$13K, two targets from the $9K-$11K range, and two from the $8-9K range.

There's one perk of being the defending champion that Thomas enjoys that has not been the same when he has won events overseas.

Stewart Cink was the only player with whom Furyk played twice in the opening rounds.

"Well, definitely more physical".

"It will be fascinating to duel with Woods", Thomas said. "You're not going to get greens like Augusta". Winning in France will not be easy.

The matches will have some serious star power.

"Maybe I'll get to see the nightlife", he said. "You've got two very, very solid teams and we have our hands full". But on Tuesday it was Thomas Bjorn, with four captain's picks for his European squad to take on the United States in Paris next month, who was quizzed about Woods. For this week, that means Justin Rose. Rory McIlroy made a run at the Open.

BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOR: Imagine Tommy Fleetwood's surprise upon checking his bank statement. "So it's great to have him back now". Italy's Francesco Molinari won three times, including the Open at Carnoustie. "So he has been challenging this year and moving up that points list, which has been fun to watch".

"For me personally, it's a case of keep doing the same things. It's going to be a big atmosphere out there and I'm looking forward to that".

"Hopefully, I'll have a couple of majors by the end of my career when I'm done". This tournament often favours the bigger drivers and few are better equipped in that department than the 29-year-old Northern Irishman. It was going back on one plane and coming down on the same plane. Woods had assisted Davis Love III at the 2016 Ryder Cup and Steve Stricker at the 2017 Presidents Cup - both American victories.

And while Woods has not spoken in past months of his physical well-being confirmation he underwent ice treatment on his back on Monday has many observers wondering if Woods is covering-up his true fitness. Woods, however, is starting to feel the physical toll of a long PGA Tour season. He understood that Spieth, who turned pro a year earlier and effectively had a two-year start on him, has more majors, has won more tournaments, reached No. 1 first and stayed there longer.

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