World Golf Championship-FedEx St Jude Invitational - Final Round
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2020 PGA Championship predictions: While Justin Thomas arrives fresh off a win, Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka are among past PGA winners searching for their summer form.

After 382 days, major championship golf will return Thursday when the 2020 PGA Championship tees off at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.

One of the Championship's recent winners arrives on the West Coast in peak form.

Justin Thomas, winner of the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club, has been locked in since the PGA Tour restarted in mid-June from its COVID-19 hiatus. Outside of a missed cut at the Travelers Championship, Thomas has finished no worse than 18th place in five starts, including three top-10 finishes and a win Sunday at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind.

With the win in Memphis, Thomas became the third-youngest player in PGA Tour history to reach 13 career wins, and he regained his status as world No. 1. Thomas erased a four-shot deficit early in the round and held off a hard-charging Brooks Koepka to claim the title and head to San Francisco looking to join Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only two players to win a WGC and the PGA Championship in consecutive weeks.

Thomas led the field in strokes gained: tee to green in Memphis and closed the win with a nifty up-and-down on the 72nd hole to seal a final-round 65 and a three-shot victory.

While Thomas’ game has been in good form since the restart, Koepka has struggled both with the health of his left knee and his game. Koepka’s last six starts since the return from quarantine have been a mixed bag. The two-time reigning PGA champion has posted two top 10s (7,2), missed two cuts and been a non-factor on the weekend (T-32, T-62) in his other two starts.

But Koepka, who will be looking to become the first player to win three straight PGA Championships since Walter Hagen won four in a row from 1924-1927, seemed to find something in Memphis over the weekend. The four-time major champion led the field in strokes gained: approach at TPC Southwind and was just one shot back of Thomas before his tee shot on 18 drifted left and found the water, leading to a closing double bogey on the final hole of the tournament.

Koepka, who is 70-under-par in major championships since 2017, is pleased with the state of his game heading to TPC Harding Park.

“I feel good, I feel like my game is right there,” Koepka said after finishing in a tie for second place. “This is where we wanted to be, peaking for the PGA, and I feel like my game is right there. Everything is solid.”

While Thomas and Koepka were dueling in Memphis, four-time PGA Championship winner Tiger Woods (’99, ’00, ’06, ’07) was getting a look at TPC Harding Park. Woods only has played once since the restart, finishing in a tie for 40th place at the Memorial Tournament.

Woods elected to skip the WGC-FedEx St. Jude invitational in order to prepare for the PGA Championship. With a win, Woods would join Jack Nicklaus and Hagen as the only players to win the championship five times.

The 15-time major champion has good vibes at TPC Harding Park, winning the WGC-American Express Victory in 2005, and going 5-0 in the 2009 Presidents Cup.

Two-time PGA champion Rory McIlroy (’12, ’14) opened the season with four straight top-five finishes but hasn’t looked the same since the restart. In five starts since returning from the quarantine, McIlroy has gone: T32, T41, T11, T32 and T47 in Memphis.

Like Woods, McIlroy also has fond memories of Harding Park. The world No. 3 won the 2015 WGC-Cadillac Match Play at Harding Park, never trailing in any match.

Jason Day, who won the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, missed the cut in three of his first four tournaments back, but has recorded three straight top-10 finishes to arrive in San Francisco on a high note.

Five-time major champion Phil Mickelson (’05) finished tied for second at TPC Southwind, his lone top-20 finish in his past five starts.

Past champions Keegan Bradley (’11), Jason Dufner (’13), and Jimmy Walker (’16) have struggled since the restart, failing to record a top-30 finish over the past seven weeks.

Several former champions still are searching for their game as the world’s best descend on TPC Harding Park.

But the last two players to lift the Wanamaker Trophy – Thomas and Koepka – appear to be peaking at the perfect time.

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