PGA course a bomber's paradise: Tiger

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas tried valiantly to get Jarrod Lyle's trademark bucket hat to the tournament but they had to settle for yellow ribbons. Pic GettyMore

ST. LOUIS - Jim Furyk can defer a decision on Tiger Woods and the Ryder Cup for a few more weeks, but the USA captain admitted Wednesday he was surprised the 14-time champion discussed being part of the team as a player back in January.

Woods is paired with Rory McIlroy and defending champion Justin Thomas for the opening rounds. Because as good as he was off the tee at Firestone, he never could take advantage of it. His ballstriking declined significantly at last week's WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but it looked like Wednesday was a step forward in that regard.

Jon Rahm Jon Rahm is seeking his first major title at the PGA Championship. Golfers who hit it straight and long will have an advantage, so the bombers off of the tee are another primary focus of mine. I've kind of felt that way a lot this year, I don't mind it.

"If you're able to hit the ball well and put the ball in the right sections, you'll see a bunch of birdies".

"I've always been my own guy", Thomas said, "but I was perceived by the media as his buddy".

Add on-form McIlroy, a four-time major winner who was a runner-up at the Open Championship, plus reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed, two-time US Open winner Brooks Koepka and reigning Open Championship winner Francesco Molinari of Italy and it's clear to see why expectations are high for a thrill-packed final major of 2018. He had to learn how to swing.

"It's certainly close", McIlroy said. Now, Woods must "get the mindset back prior to all the injuries and all the surgeries". They're going to look at if you win or lose.

Streelman finished in the top 10 at the John Deere Classic last month, but he missed the cut last week at the Barracuda Championship, the tournament that runs concurrently with the WGC event.

Rory McIlroyI like Rory to win this week so it makes sense to target him.

While fans can get pictures and autographs from the players, Volunteers paid $175 to get a lot of extra perks.

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"The only thing I haven't done is win enough".

The aura surrounding the 14-times major champion in his prime affected his playing partners, said Furyk, who believes times have changed and that Woods can only be a positive force on the team at next month's event in Paris. He would join Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen in the feat with a victory.

And Spieth is determined not to be distracted by the potential career Grand Slam, saying: "I think I was probably a little more anxious previous year [at Quail Hollow in Charlotte]".

The most recent was at the British Open, when he had the lead in the final round for two holes in the final round until fading to a tie for sixth.

"I mean, I've kept giving myself chances this year".

Ninth-ranked Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson, the 2012 US Open champion, hold the last two places but a host of rivals are within reach, the nearest being Bryson DeChambeau and five-time major victor Phil Mickelson. It was just a reality that his status as one of the greatest golfers ensured a hoopla of distractions wherever he went.

Bellerive is a long course and the popular theory is that it will favour bigger hitters. You're like, "This person's going to think I'm so stupid for this".

"It will be fascinating to duel with Woods", Thomas said.

"I think both teams are going to be very good when it comes down to, if you compare them, we're going to have a really good team, they're going to have a good team, and it's going to be a great match", he said. "Through animations and how the greens are mapped ahead of time, we will have an accurate depiction of where the ball needs to be putt, along with the speed, for it to go in".

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