Bethpage Black is hosting its third major after staging the 2002 and 2009 US OpensWith Tiger Woods chasing yet more records, Rory McIlroy seeking a third title and Jordan Spieth trying to complete the career Grand Slam, there are stories everywhere you look at the US PGA Championship.The notoriously tough Bethpage Black on Long Island in the state of New York will host the 101st staging of what is now the second major of the year.BBC Sport looks at why Woods is favourite to win again and the players who can stop him at the major that was previously held in August.Woods in from the cold?
Woods won the first of his four US PGA Championship titles in 1999After a decade of writing ’14-time major winner Woods’, it feels quite odd to be calling him a 15-time major winner.And that, in turn, has brought Jack Nicklaus’ record haul of 18 majors sharply into focus.The 43-year-old broke his 11-year major drought by winning a fifth Masters title at Augusta National last month and despite not playing since then, says he is “rested and ready” as he starts his quest to win a record-equalling fifth US PGA title – 20 years after he won his first.Woods’ quest for 16th major is irresistible narrativeDaly to ride in cart at US PGA with knee problemWoods and McIlroy eye Olympic debuts in 2020″To tie Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus with five wins would be a special accomplishment,” said the world number six.And a victory this week could propel Woods back to the top of the world rankings for the first time since March 2013. He would also tie Sam Snead’s record of 82 PGA Tour victories.Woods has form around Bethpage’s Black course, having led after every round when he won the 2002 US Open there as well as finishing joint sixth when the course hosted the same tournament in 2009.Since then he has had well-documented back issues to deal with, but he returned to form last year, coming close to winning both The Open and US PGA before claiming his first PGA Tour title in five years at the Tour Championship.However, England’s six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo, speaking on the BBC golf podcast The Cut, cast doubt over whether Woods will conquer Bethpage again.Reflecting on his errant tee shots at Augusta, Faldo said: “You hit it sideways (at Bethpage) and you will be in knee-high fescue.”And on the expected chilly conditions, with temperatures set to be in the low 60s, he added: “The weather is key. He won in Atlanta [Tour Championship] in 100 degrees and at Augusta it was in the low 80s and of course it was hot and humid.”He needs that heat on his back, I would have thought.”So who else should you look out for? With 99 of the world’s top 100 playing – only fifth-ranked Justin Thomas has pulled out – there’s plenty of competition.The European challenge
McIlroy has suggested he will represent Ireland at the 2020 OlympicsWith six Europeans in the top 16 in the world rankings and two-time winner Rory McIlroy among them, there is a strong continental contingent.Northern Ireland’s McIlroy, who won the last of his four majors at this tournament in 2014, has had a decent start to the year, having won the Players Championship and had seven other top 10s.He believes driving accuracy will be the most important factor this week, but said: “I have a good record at the PGA, I like the course and have some experience on it. If I play the way I can, I’ll have a chance of winning.” Like Woods, the world number four could return to the top of the rankings with a win, as could England’s Justin Rose, who is ranked second.Rose’s solitary major win remains the 2013 US Open. He went close at last year’s Open albeit without ever really threatening the lead, as Italy’s Francesco Molinari claimed his first major title.Molinari followed that by finishing joint sixth at the US PGA and his good form in the majors continued at Augusta National, where he went into the final round as the leader but dunked his ball on the 12th and 15th holes to drop away.England’s Tommy Fleetwood said “it’s a great time to try and hit a bit of form” after finishing joint 10th at the British Masters he hosted last weekend. The world number 16 does not have a great record at this tournament – with two missed cuts and a best of joint 35th from four appearances – but a second and fourth at the past two US Opens proves he has the game to compete in majors.Fellow Englishman Paul Casey has a victory and four other top-five finishes from 10 events in 2019 and has risen to 12th in the rankings. But the 41-year-old always seems to have one costly round and his best finish in a major was joint third at the 2010 Open.Finally, Spain’s Jon Rahm is teeing it up at just his 12th major yet the 24-year-old already has seven top-10 finishes from 10 starts this year. That said, this impressive record is in contrast with his three victories in both 2018 and 2017. One of those top 10s, though, was at last month’s Masters and he finished joint fourth in this event last year.The US challenge
Koepka won the 2017 and 2018 US Open titles as well as last year’s PGA ChampionshipWill Brooks Koepka successfully defend the title he won at Bellerive and claim a fourth major from his last eight starts? It’s hard to bet against the 29-year-old, who has finished in the top 15 in each of the previous five US PGAs.With 16 top-10 finishes from 39 major appearances, it’s hard to work out how world number one Dustin Johnson has not won more majors than the 2016 US Open. He fell foul of a local rule about all sandy areas at Whistling Straits being treated as bunkers that cost him dearly at the 2010 US PGA, while a three-putt from three feet on the last handed Jordan Spieth the 2015 US Open title.That meant Spieth, at 21, became the youngest US Open champion in 92 years. Now 25, the three-time major winner is, for the third time, trying to complete the career grand slam by winning this tournament – but he is distinctly out of form and has slipped to 39th in the world after a winless 2018 and no top 10s in 2019.Nicknamed ‘The Scientist’, Bryson DeChambeau won four times last year and has claimed a European Tour title in 2019. Uniquely, all his clubs are the same length but the 25-year-old is yet to find a successful formula at a major.In contrast, Xander Schauffele’s major career has got off to a fine start. DeChambeau is yet to record a top-10 finish, but Schauffele, also 25, has had four in his first eight outings, including joint-second finishes at last year’s Open and this year’s Masters.Could it finally be world number 10 Rickie Fowler’s year? He has three runners-up spots at the other three majors and has a best of third at this one.The world challengeAustralia’s Jason Day surged up the Masters leaderboard on the final day to finish joint fifth. The 31-year-old won this tournament in 2015 and has four other top-10 finishes in nine attempts.South Africa’s 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen recorded his best US PGA result when he was joint second in 2017.Chinese eyes will be on world number 37 Haotong Li, who shot to prominence when he finished third at the 2017 Open. The 23-year-old is playing in just his ninth major though.From last to secondThe US PGA has been moved from August to May as part of a revamp that sees the PGA Tour season avoid a clash with the opening American football fixtures in the NFL.It means The Open – which will continue to be held in July – will become the last major in the calendar.Johnson is among those who have welcomed the change to the calendar. He said: “It spaces out our big tournaments a little better and I’m really happy with the date change.”It could be a little warmer maybe, but it’s a great move. Usually the PGA is my fourth tournament in a row.”It is not the first time the tournament has been moved, or indeed changed.It was first played in 1916 and began life as a matchplay event. In 1958, after losing money the year before, the tournament was switched to strokeplay.During the 1960s, the tournament was staged the week after The Open on five occasions which, given the time it took to travel from Britain to America in those days, made it almost impossible for players to compete in both.It was also moved to late July in 2016 to accommodate the Olympic golf tournament in Rio.Bethpage Black is the host of the 101st US PGA, a public course that has a sign next to the first tee that famously reads: “The Black Course is an extremely difficult course which we recommend for highly skilled golfers.”It is a par 70 with just two par fives and measures 7,459 yards.The winner receives the Wanamaker Trophy, named after Rodman Wanamaker, the founder of the Professional Golfers’ Association of America. It is the biggest of the majors’ four trophies, standing 28 inches tall and weighing almost two stones.