PITTSFORD, New York – The second major of the year is here. The famed East Course at Oak Hill outside Rochester, NY will host the PGA Championship. A star studded field has been assembled including defending champion Justin Thomas, as well as former PGA winners Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and Phil Mickelson among others.
Mickelson returns to the PGA Championship after winning at the prime age of 50 in 2021 and then sitting out last year’s edition in the upheaval of the LIV Tour.
He will be joined by 16 other LIV Tour members including recent major winners Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed, and Koepka.
For Koepka, coming to Oak Hill is a homecoming of sorts.
“It’ll be a good week,” said Koepka who won back to back PGA Championships in 2018 and 2019. “That’s where me and my caddy (Northern Irishman Billy Elliott), it was the first time he ever caddied for me. It’s been ten years so it’ll be special.”
Koepka is a two time winner on the LIV Tour and was the leader after 54 holes at this years Masters, only to finish tied for second with Mickelson, 4 shots behind winner John Rahm. It was Rahm’s second major having also won the US Open in ‘21. He’s the top ranked player in the world and the man many feel is the player to beat at Oak Hill.
Johnson and Jason Day come to Oak Hill fresh on wins this last weekend. DJ won a three-way playoff at the LIV Tour in Tulsa. He defeated Smith and Branden Grace in a playoff with a birdie on the first playoff hole. DJ won the 2016 US Open at Oakmont and the 2020 Masters.
For Day, Mothers Day was a very emotional day. He captured his first win in five years taking the AT&T Byron Nelson with a tremendous closing round of 9-under 62. This coming after the passing of his mother last year after a lengthy battle with cancer.
“I was in tears for a little bit there,” said Day. “To think about all that my Mom went through. And then I had injuries on top of all that going on in my life.”
It was the 13th win of his career for Day, the former number one ranked player in the world.
Perhaps the most intriguing story at this year’s PGA will be Mickelson. When he won the PGA at the Ocean Course at Kiawah he claimed the title as the “oldest player to win a major” as 50 years, 11 months and 7 days.
Rarely has a player not defended his title at the PGA, but Mickelson sat out last years tournament amongst the controversy surrounding the LIV Tour and his comments against the PGA Tour. He was a very surprising second place finisher at this year’s Masters shooting a tremendous 7-under 65 in the final round at Augusta. Does the 6-time major winner have one more flash of greatness? We will see amongst the many great players set to take on Oak Hill.
On the web: PGAChampionship.com