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Preview: 2024 US PGA Championship - predictions, course guide, preview

Sports Mole previews the 106th edition of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, which gets underway on Thursday.

The second major of the year has soon rolled around with the 106th edition of the US PGA Championship getting underway at Valhalla on Thursday.

Scottie Scheffler is the favourite to add another trophy to his collection, yet with distractions away from the course, his rivals will be sensing an opportunity in Louisville.

US PGA Championship preview

Scottie Scheffler celebrates winning The Masters on April 14, 2024.© Reuters

Such has been the relentlessness of Scottie Scheffler during 2024 that the perception is he could realistically dominate the field in any given tournament.

The world number one has finished in the top two of his last five tournaments, winning four times, which includes victory at the Masters and the RBC Heritage, his most recent outing.

However, with wife Meredith having given birth to their first child last week, there is a layer of uncertainty over Scheffler's preparation for this event, having also missed the Wells Fargo Championship last week.

In his absence, Rory McIlroy won a fourth title at Quail Hollow, producing a quite sensational final round to prevail by five shots, admitting after his success that he feels 'the stars may be starting to align'.

Rory McIlroy during final round of Wells Fargo Championship on May 12, 2024.© Reuters

That viewpoint stems from the Northern Irishman returning to the venue of his last major title a decade ago, McIlroy impressively posting a one-shot victory having also held the leads at the end of rounds two and three.

A final-round 68 was enough to edge out Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson. Of the chasing pack on that occasion, only Brooks Koepka, on just his sixth major appearance, and Jason Day joined Fowler in showing the kind of form that may benefit them this week.

Koepka is now a three-time US PGA champion - defending his title from last year - and although he was not up to speed at The Masters, finishing 45th, he has since won in Singapore with LIV Golf.

Jon Rahm recorded 10th spot in the same tournament, and has not finished lower than 14th in seven LIV events, but the Spaniard realised at The Masters that returning to major competition was not as seamless as he would have anticipated.

There are an array of other names who could contend, including Wyndham Clark who is now up to fourth in the World Golf Rankings, but Ludvig Aberg is currently dealing with a lingering knee issue. If you are looking for a form player, do not write off the likes of Max Homa and Byeong Hun An.

Max Homa in action in August 2022.© Reuters

Course guide:

Valhalla will be playing host to the US PGA for the fourth time, with its previous editions coming in 1996, 2000 and 2014 respectively. The United States also prevailed when the Ryder Cup was held at this course in 2008.

Over the years, the course has only increased in distance. In 2014, it was measured at 7,458 yards, but it is up to 7,609 yards for this edition. It remains as a par 71.

The Kentucky-based course was designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened back in 1986. Since then, it has a history of creating close finishes, with the three previous US PGAs and two senior US PGAs being decided by a playoff or one shot.

Almost 2,000 yards cover the final four holes, three par-fours ranging between 435 yards and 508 yards being followed by a 570-yard par-five, aptly called 'Gahm Over'.

Jason Day at the AT&T Byron Nelson on May 14, 2023.© Reuters

Prediction: Jason Day

Despite his personal circumstances, Scheffler remains the standout favourite among the bookmakers, and it is easy to see why they are fearful of raising his odds.

However, this is a player who has not played competitive golf since April 22 and welcomed a child into the world on May 8.

With that in mind, we are looking elsewhere, and McIlroy is obviously at the forefront of our thoughts. The pendulum appears to be swinging in his favour, yet winning golf tournaments is hard, let alone when you come under the kind of scrutiny that McIlroy does.

We are taking somewhat of a left-field choice and going for Day. A major champion with a top-20 on this course 10 years ago and a fourth-placed finish last week, the Australian - now back in the world's top 20 - is one to watch, and it should not come as a surprise if he wins a second major this week.

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Scottie Scheffler during win at RBC Heritage on April 21, 2024.
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