Scheffler, Spieth, McIlroy all going for different slices of history when they tee it up at PGA

Updated May. 16, 2024 6:00 a.m. ET

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Right when it felt like there was no stopping Scottie Scheffler on any of golf's biggest stages, along came a few viable candidates, just in time for the PGA Championship.

Rory McIlroy has won his last two starts, hitting top form as he returns to Valhalla Golf Club, the site of his 2014 PGA title, which also happens to be the last major he won.

Defending champion Brooks Koepka bounced back from a 45th-place finish at the Masters, which Scheffler won in a runway, for a victory on the LIV Tour.

Scheffler, meanwhile, already has four wins this year: at The Players, the Masters, Harbor Town and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. What could possibly slow him down? Well, his wife, Meredith, gave birth to a baby boy, Bennett, on May 8.


“I was sitting there with a newborn in my arms and the green jacket in the closet,” Scheffler said of the off time he spent after Bennett was born. “It was a pretty special time, I think, at home. But at the same time, I think the competitiveness in me doesn’t let me reflect too much and I was trying to do my best to get ready to play this week.”

When Scheffler tees off Thursday, he'll be trying to become the first player since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to win the year's first two majors.

Some other storylines to watch this week at Valhalla.


Even with all the injuries that have piled up over the years, Tiger Woods says he still thinks he can win tournaments. He took a bit of encouragement out of the Masters, where he made the cut for the record 24th straight time, but faded on the weekend and finished at 16 over, in last place.

Valhalla is not Augusta, but it is hilly, and it has been raining most of the week, which makes any long walk that much tougher.

“I can still hit shots. Getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days,” Woods said. “You saw it at Augusta. I was there after two days and didn’t do very well on the weekend.”


Spieth needs the PGA to become the sixth player to complete the career grand slam. He has not been playing great this year — his only top-five finish came in the season-opener on Maui — but nobody has a knack for turning nothing into something quite like Spieth, who has one title each at the Masters, U.S. and British Opens.

Spieth hasn't won a major since 2017 at Royal Birkdale when his famous 3-iron from the driving range helped him capture the British.

“I mean, I’m aware,” Spieth said of a long-running quest for the career slam that is now going on its eighth year. “It’s very cool, but I would take any and all and as many majors as possible regardless of where they come.”


McIlroy comes to Valhalla the same week as he filed for divorce i n a move very few outside his orbit saw coming. At his pre-tournament news conference, he refused to take questions about the news, which landed Monday.

When asked how he was doing on a personal level, his answer was short.

“I’m ready to play this week,” he said.

Last week, he shot 65 on Sunday to overtake Xander Schauffele and win his 26th career PGA Tour title. Two weeks before that, he and Shane Lowry won in New Orleans to capture the tour's only two-man team event.

The last man to make a major his third straight win on tour was McIlroy, back in 2014, when he won the British Open, the Bridgestone Invitational and the PGA in three straight starts. (Scheffler could also accomplish this feat with a win.)


A win for Koepka this week would give him four PGA titles, tying him with Woods and leaving him one behind Jack Nicklaus for the most in the stroke-play era that began in 1958.

Koepka, who values majors over all else, has as many wins in those tournaments (5) as he did in regular events in the U.S. and Europe before he left for LIV Golf in 2022.

This would also mark his second back-to-back run of PGAs. He won his first two at Bellerive and Bethpage in 2018-19. He compared Valhalla more to Bethpage.

“Here and Bethpage, if you miss a fairway, if you have a 5-iron in, I think there’s a good chance you’re not reaching the green,” he said. “Maybe you can if you catch a great lie, but odds are you’re not. That’s a common trait with what the PGA has most recently been doing.”


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