PGA Championship - Preview Day 3
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The 102nd PGA Championship tees off Thursday at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

Featuring a loaded field with 95 of the top 100 golfers in the world, and chock-full of storylines, the year’s first major should provide epic golf throughout the weekend.

Winning at TPC Harding Park will be no easy task. The 7,251-yard, Par 70 course will demand the best out of the game’s elite if they want to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy come Sunday.

Many of the best players in the world arrive in San Francisco in good form, hoping to peak at the perfect time and bask in major glory.

Favorites for the 2020 PGA Championship

Justin Thomas:  The newly crowned world No. 1 golfer is fresh off a win at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind in Memphis. Since the PGA Tour restarted from its coronavirus quarantine, Thomas has four top-10 finishes, including the win in Memphis and a second-place finish at the Workday Charity Open. Thomas is among the longest hitters in the game and is hitting the ball better than anyone on tour at the moment. In his last two PGA Championship starts, Thomas has a win in 2017 and a tie for sixth in 2018.

Brooks Koepka: The two-time defending champion is rounding into form at the perfect moment. Koepka led the field in Memphis in strokes gained: approach en route to a tie for second place behind Thomas. Koepka had top-five finishes the week before each of his PGA Championship wins, so the formula for success appears to be there. His length off the tee and strength to muscle the ball out of a penal rough should benefit him in his quest to make history.

Collin Morikawa: Morikawa opened the restart with a second-place finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge, losing to Daniel Berger in a playoff. Three starts later, he defeated Thomas in a playoff to win the Workday Charity Open at Muirfield Village. On the season, Morikawa ranks 17th in strokes gained: off the tee and fourth in strokes gained: approach. He has the perfect game to contend and win at TPC Harding Park.

Xander Schauffele: The 26-year-old has been locked in since the restart from quarantine. He has posted five top 20s in six starts, including a third-place finish at the Charles Schwab Challenge and a tie for sixth last week in Memphis. The California native has four top-10 finishes in his last eight major starts and is primed to breakthrough on the game’s biggest stage.

Winning a major championship is no easy feat. There’s a reason that no golfer outside the top 50 in the Official World Golf Rankings has won a major since Keegan Bradley claimed the 2011 PGA Championship. That’s 32 consecutive majors with a top-tier player claiming the title.

While it’s easy to expect that trend to continue, there are a few players who could surprise at TPC Harding Park.

Jordan Spieth: The three-time major champion has fallen to 62nd in the world rankings as he works to rediscover the elite form he had back in 2015. While Spieth hasn’t won a tournament since the 2017 Open Championship, he almost always brings his best to the major stage. Spieth has five top-20 finishes in his last eight major starts, including a tie for third at last year’s PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. Don’t be surprised to see Spieth lurking on the weekend.

Jason Day: Three consecutive top-10 finishes have taken Day from 63rd in the world to 42nd in the world, and the 2015 PGA Championship winner appears primed to contend this week in San Francisco. The 32-year-old has a great track record at the PGA Championship, posting a cumulative score of 39-under-par at the event since 2015. That number is second only to Koepka, who is 46-under-par.

Several of the best players in the world have pinpointed length off the tee as the key to contending this week at TPC Harding Park. With that in mind, here are a few players with the skill set to contend this weekend.

Rory McIlroy: The four-time major champion has been rusty since the restart, but he ranks fourth in strokes gained: off the tee and seventh in driving distance. The driver always is a weapon for McIlroy, and if he can get his irons dialed in, he should be near the top of the leaderboard on the weekend.

Bryson DeChambeau: Ranked first in strokes gained: off the tee and first in driving distance, it’s easy to see DeChambeau’s length off the tee giving him a decided edge at Harding Park. If the accuracy with the driver is there, it could be a career week for one of golf’s young stars.

Dustin Johnson: Last year’s runner-up at Bethpage Black has the perfect game to conquer Harding Park. Johnson ranks 11th in strokes gained: off the tee and 20th in driving distance and should be able to take advantage of a course setup that should give the edge to bombers.

With all that in mind, it’s time to answer the question on everyone’s mind: Who is going to win?

Prediction: Schauffele has lurked around the top of major leaderboards for the last two years and arrives in San Francisco playing pristine golf. He has the length off the tee and the long iron game to succeed at TPC Harding Park and take home his first career major victory.

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