The slogan the PGA of America coined several years ago to commemorate and promote its PGA Championship as the last of the four major championships in the calendar year was: “Glory’s last shot.’’
This week’s PGA Championship, to be played at Harding Park in San Francisco, represents “Glory’s first shot.’’ It not only will be the first major championship of 2020, but the first conducted since the British Open was played in July 2019 at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having pushed the PGA from May to August, canceled the British Open and postponed the U.S. Open and Masters to September and November, respectively, the PGA Championship is batting leadoff to the truncated major championship season.
It does so with the PGA Tour having conducted eight weeks of events in its restart. And it comes with a list of a season’s worth of tremendous storylines.
Where to start?
- With Brooks Koepka is attempting to accomplish something no one has done in 93 years: a threepeat? This despite Koepka having slumped for the better part of the past year with a knee injury and erratic play.
- With Jon Rahm and his newly minted No. 1 ranking, achieved two weeks ago with his victory at the Memorial Tournament, trying to win his first career major championship after not having truly contended to win one in his first 13 tries as a pro?
- With Tiger Woods, who’s played just four tournament rounds since February and just three tournaments in 2020, trying to win his 16th major championship?
- With Rory McIlroy, the perceived top player in the world, trying to regain the No. 1 ranking Rahm wrested from him two weeks ago?
- With Bryson DeChambeau and his 30-something pounds of added muscle and new-found length off the tee supposedly poised to change the game?
- With Dustin Johnson, who won the Travelers Championship and followed that with a pair of 80s en route to a missed cut at the Memorial then an opening-round 78 and a withdrawal from the 3M Championship a week ago?
- How about with Jordan Spieth, who’s been slumping so badly the past three years that no one even remembers he’s a PGA Championship victory away from completing the rare career Grand Slam?
- Or the new fleet of 20-somethings rapidly rising up the rankings — led by Colin Morikawa, Matthew Wolff and Viktor Hovland?
- Or Phil Mickelson, who still believes he has a major championship victory or two in him at age 50 and flashes that very ability to do so from time to time?
We can go on, because there are more storylines. But you get the picture. This week in San Francisco has potential to be memorable.
“There are so many great storylines, something good’s going to happen … we just don’t know which one it is,’’ Seth Waugh, the CEO of the PGA of America, told The Post this past week. “We’ve got 97 of the top 100 in world rankings coming. We’re fortunate to have the strongest field on paper in golf for the past 10 or 15 years. Everyone wants to play, and we’re excited about that.
“We’re proud to be that first major. Now that we’re finally back into the major season, it’s going to be a great run of golf. We’ll have us and then [FedExCup] playoffs start and then U.S. Open and the Masters. It’s going to be a sprint, and a great one and we’re very proud to kick that off.’’
Waugh said the week, which will include no spectators on site as the PGA Tour has been doing for the past two months since it’s restart, “will feel different than the last eight weeks, because it is a major and that pressure is there.”
“I think it’ll be different and better than the last eight weeks, because a major always is,’’ he said. “We’re thrilled to be the first ones out, for sure. Hopefully, we’ll have a close match and a lot of drama to the end.’’