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The PGA Championship 2024 Preview, Picks & Analysis

By: | Mon 13 May 2024

And in the blink of an eye the year’s second men's golf major is upon us and it will be a bitter-sweet tournament for Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy.

The PGA Championship takes place as Valhalla, the course where the most recent of McIlroy’s four major successes was achieved in 2014. If anybody had told him - or anybody else prepared to listen - that almost 10 years later he would still be looking for major number five there is a good chance that the men in white coats would have been sent for.

He has had his chances - and plenty of them. None more so than last year’s US Open, when Wyndham Clark pipped him by a shot. He has also had chances to win The Open again and The Masters but, infuriatingly, he has developed an unfortunate habit of producing a round that ruins his chances.

McIlroy will be hoping to draw on positive memories as he returns to Valhalla. And, of course, he has just won the Wells Fargo Championship for the fourth time, coming hot on the heels of his victory at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in partnership with Ireland’s Shane Lowry. He also won the Dubai Desert Classic.

But all eyes will be on two players this week - Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka.

Scheffler has swept all before him in 2024, winning four times. It was almost five in a row, but he missed a short putt on the final green at the Houston Open to force his way into a playoff. His play in winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Players Championship, The Masters and RBC Heritage was out of this world.

Unsurprisingly, his current form has seen comparisons drawn with 15-time major champion Tiger Woods and he has certainly been as dominant in 2024 as Woods was in his prime. But he has a long, long way to go before he can truly be spoken of in the same breath as Woods. He has become a wonderful driver of the golf ball, finding fairway after fairway on his way victory at Augusta National. He has always been a fine iron player with a terrific short game but he has now also worked out his woes on the greens. 

You have to feel that if his putter is hot again this week then the rest of the field will be playing for second place.

Brooks Koepka

However, Brooks Koepka may well have something to say about that. Twelve months ago he arrived at the PGA on the back of a near-miss at The Masters and duly reminded us all just why he had already won this tournament and the US Open twice each.

The 34-year-old American had battled with a knee injury that threatened to end his career but he finally returned to full fitness in 2023 and played his way on to the American Ryder Cup team - the only LIV golfer to do so. By his own admission, he has not played especially well this year but, with a perfect sense of timing, he won LIV’s tournament in Singapore. It was his fourth victory on the breakaway tour, worth another $4m for his bank balance but it was abundantly obvious that he was using the event to tune up for his title defence this week.

It would be a big surprise if he were not to contend again.

Will Zalatoris is another who has had mixed fortunes since returning from back fusion surgery. He struggled horribly early in the year but things have gradually clicked back into place, and the long putter he is now using has most definitely helped him on the greens. He is at his best on tough golf courses - and they don’t come much tougher than this one. And he has a wonderful record in the majors.

Jon Rahm has not enjoyed the best of fortunes since his big-money defection to LIV. It will surprise many that he has yet to win one of their titles despite playing some decent golf. Koepka has benefitted from the reduced playing schedule as he nurses his body but I firmly believe that Rahm is a golfer who needs to be involved in a heavier playing schedule and that his game has suffered since his move. Of course it only takes one good week to put things right and you can be certain that he will have been working furiously on his game.

It was obvious at The Masters that he was out of sorts. Returning as the defending champion he wanted to put on a show for the patrons. Instead, he spent most of the week bemoaning his bad luck - never a good sign.

When conversations start about the best golfers never to have won a major, Xander Schauffele’s name usually appears near the top of the list, along with Viktor Hovland. Schauffele has enjoyed some remarkable consistency in 2024 without really looking like winning. He does everything really well and it is surely only a matter of time before it all clicks into place in a major for the American. Hovland is not the player he was at the end of 2023 after opting to tinker with a swing that worked incredibly well for him, and I remain unconvinced that he is working on the right things. But he knows better than I do.

If you are looking for a European winner, your best bet might well be Ludvig Aberg, who has taken to the professional ranks like a duck to water. It is still hard to credit that this will only be his second major because he plays like a seasoned veteran - a world-class seasoned veteran.

He only turned pro last summer but is already ranked sixth in the world and has made 23 out of 26 cuts. He withdrew from last week’s Wells Fargo Championship as a precaution after feeling some soreness in his knee but you can bet he will be ready to go come Thursday. 

In 10 starts this season he has made every cut and finished second at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and, even more impressively, was runner-up at The Masters in his major debut. Trust me when I tell you that it takes some kind of special talent to achieve that.

The PGA of America has also extended invitations to many LIV golfers, including Talor Gooch, who won three times on the rebel tour in 2023 and is a hugely gifted golfer. But unless he wins this week, this will be his only major of the year as he has made it clear that he will not be entering qualifying for either the US Open or Open Championship. It is a strange stance to take for a golfer who has complained loud and long about failing to be asked to the majors.

Tournament Winners:

It was won in 2015 by Jason Day, in 2016 by Jimmy Walker, in 2017 and 2022 by Justin Thomas, in 2018, 2019 and 2023 by Brooks Koepka, in 2020 by Collin Morikawa, and in 2021 by Phil Mickelson.

The Course:

Valhalla was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1986. It is a par 72 measuring 7.456 yards. The course record of 63 was set by Jose Maria Olazabal in 2000. It hosted the Ryder Cup in 2008 and this will be the fourth time it has hosted the PGA Championship.

Form Guide:

It is hard to look beyond Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who has already won four times in 2024 and is the 4/1 favourite on Betway, but defending champion Brooks Koepka has returned to form at exactly the right time and will be looking to win for the fourth time.

To Win:

Brooks Koepka. Brilliant ball striker (12/1)

Each Way:

Scottie Scheffler. Impossible to ignore (4/1)

Each Way:

Rory McIlroy. Can he end his drought? (7/1)

Five to Follow:

Brooks Koepka. Will take some beating (12/1)

Scottie Scheffler. Imperious (4/1)

Rory McIlroy. Must get off to a good start (7/1)

Ludvig Aberg. World class (16/1)

Xander Schauffele. Mr Consistent (16/1)

TV Guide:

Thursday, May 16, Sky Sports Golf, 1pm

Friday, May 17, Sky Sports Golf, 1pm

Saturday, May 18, Sky Sports Golf, 2pm

Sunday, May 19, Sky Sports Golf, 2pm

Other Content to Read

This 2024 PGA Championship preview article was written in collaboration with Betway.

Be part of the action with a selection of unique golf tournament experiences, from playing in a pro-am with the stars to watching the action at golf’s most illustrious events. Whether it’s the Masters or The Open, The Ryder Cup or WM Phoenix Open, build your own bespoke package with the experts at Golfbreaks.com.

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