Recent history was against Rory McIlroy as he tried to bounce back from his dispiriting performance in the Masters in the 105th US PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
The last seven men’s majors have been won by players in their 20s, a streak beginning with Jon Rahm’s victory in the 2021 US Open and extended by the Spaniard’s triumph at Augusta National last month.
McIlroy, who missed the cut in the Masters after a second round of 77, turned 34 earlier this month and even the prospect of playing a major at a course where he is a member has seemingly done little to raise his spirits.
“It’s not as if I have a ton of local knowledge here compared to everyone else,” said McIlroy, whose wife Erica is from Rochester.
“The last two days are the most I’ve really seen of this golf course over the last couple of years.”
McIlroy was due to be among the early starters on Thursday alongside defending champion Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, with many of the pre-tournament favourites getting their campaigns under way from the 10th.
Jordan Spieth, who needs to win the US PGA to complete a career grand slam, looked set to overcome a wrist injury to compete at Oak Hill, where Jason Dufner won his sole major title in 2013.
“It’s not fun if you don’t think you’ve got a chance to win,” Spieth said after a nine-hole practice round on Wednesday.
“(But) if I felt like I was limited in a way that would affect my chances then there’d be no reason for me to feel like playing, because then I could further damage it and that’s not worth it.”
Is there anything new for 2023?
Architect Andrew Green has overseen an extensive renovation of the East Course since it last hosted the US PGA in 2013, with the aim being to better reflect the original Donald Ross design. All of the greens and bunkers have been rebuilt and hundreds of trees removed. The old sixth hole has been replaced by a shorter par three which now slots in as the fifth, with the fifth becoming the sixth hole on the card and lengthened to 504 yards. The par-three 15th also has an entirely different green that has been repositioned and is no longer guarded by a pond.
Key tee times (all BST)
1300 – Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland
1311 – Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa
1322 – Shane Lowry, Jordan Spieth, Viktor Hovland
1333 – Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Smith, Jon Rahm
Widespread frost is likely on Thursday morning before temperatures begin to moderate during the afternoon with highs reaching the mid-60s. Much warmer temperatures can be expected on Friday ahead of an approaching cold front and upper-level low pressure system that will move through the region on Saturday.