>Rory McIlroy is trying to join elite company with a win this weekend.The PGA Championship begins Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club on Thursday. Let's take a look at some of the top storylines as the golf world awaits word on the presence of its biggest star.
No. 1 doesn’t usually finish No. 1
Rory McIlroy enters the PGA Championship on top of the world – with his win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he is now No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking (40th week of his career).
Ranks on PGA TOUR
Entering PGA Championship
Coming off his win at The Open Championship, McIlroy is trying to become the first player since Padraig Harrington in 2008 to win back-to-back majors (Harrington also won The Open Championship and PGA Championship) and the first player since Tiger Woods in 2007 to win a major the week after winning on the PGA TOUR.
The dominance McIlroy has displayed of late is reminiscent of Tiger Woods in 2000. Entering the PGA Championship, their numbers on the PGA TOUR are very similar, as noted in the chart on the right.
The last player to win in back-to-back weeks on the PGA TOUR was McIlroy in 2012 at the Deutsche Bank Championship and BMW Championship.
Also of note: each of the last eight major winners have come from the Top 30 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Eyes on the Tiger
Will Tiger Woods play this week at Valhalla? He won here the last time the course hosted a major (2000 PGA Championship), but after his withdrawal at last week’s WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, he could miss his seventh major as a professional.
Jack Nicklaus was 61 years old before he missed his seventh major after turning pro.
If Woods doesn’t play and win this week, he will enter next year’s Masters at 39 years old (he turns 39 in December), needing four major wins to match Jack Nicklaus. In the Masters era (since 1934), no player has won more than three majors after his 39th birthday.
If Woods played and won, he would do something he’s never done before- get his first victory of the season at a major.
Phil Mickelson enters the PGA Championship without a single top-10 finish on the PGA TOUR this season. His only top-10 of the year came back in January at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Phil Mickelson Putting
On PGA TOUR Ranks
If you’re looking for a weakness in his game, it’s been the putter, which was one of his strengths a year ago.
Mickelson has eight top-5 finishes in majors since the beginning of 2009, but none of them have come at the PGA Championship. He finished tied for 72nd at last year’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill.
Shortage of Drama
For the first time since 1972, the first three majors of the year have been won by the 36- and 54-hole leader. There has never been a year when all four majors were won by the 36- and 54-hole leader.
For the first time in major championship history, there have been back-to-back wire-to-wire major winners (Martin Kaymer and McIlroy) who held the lead outright after each round.
Trend to Watch: Repeat Winners
Each of the first three major winners this year had at least one previous major championship. The last time a year started with three repeat major winners was 2000, when all four winners were of the repeat variety (Vijay Singh at the Masters, followed by Tiger Woods at the final three majors).