Penpix for Aussies, top contenders at PGA Championship
PENPIX FOR THE SEVEN AUSTRALIANS AND LEADING INTERNATIONAL CONTENDERS AT THE US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP AT OAK HILL COUNTRY CLUB:
World ranking: 8
Best result in a major: champion (2022 British Open)
PGA Championships played: 7 (6 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: T13 (2022)
The hottest player on the planet six months ago, Smith has been slow to find his form in 2023. But in a timely confidence booster the British Open champion found something with a record-equalling final-round nine-under-par 61 to make a LIV Golf Tulsa playoff on Sunday.
World ranking: 20
Best result in a major: champion (2015 US PGA)
PGA Championships played: 13 (11 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finishes: champion (2015); runner-up (2016)
Fresh off penning Australian golf's feel-good story of the year, the revitalised former world No.1 enters the season's second major a serious contender again after rebuilding his swing and overcoming chronic back issues and a crisis of confidence.
World ranking: 38
Best result in a major: champion (2013 Masters)
PGA Championships played: 22 (16 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finishes: 3rd (2013); T3 (2006)
As promised, the talismanic veteran appears to be peaking for the majors. Made his best-ever Masters start and has recorded his first two top-10 finishes of the year in his past two starts. Driven to win an elusive second career major.
World ranking: 46
Best result in a major: T13 (2022 PGA Championship)
PGA Championships played: 1 (1 cut made)
Best PGA Championship finish: T13 (2022)
Earned a return start after an impressive top-15 finish on debut at Southern Hills last year and will be full of confidence of an even better result after claiming a third DP World Tour victory last month in Japan, holding his nerve in a pressure-filled sudden-death playoff.
MIN WOO LEE
World ranking: 62
Best result in a major: T14 (2022 Masters)
PGA Championships played: 1 (0 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: missed cut (2022)
The Perth super talent needs to rediscover his mojo after missing the cut in his past three starts, including the Masters. But he loves the big stage, as evident with a great season at the majors last year, and a tie for sixth at The Players Championship when he played in the final-round group on Sunday.
World ranking: 68
Best result in a major: T39 (2018 British Open)
PGA Championships played: 2 (2 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: T48 (2022)
Tied with Lee in sixth at the Players in a welcome return to form after an otherwise lean year. Capable of shooting low numbers but needs to eliminate big numbers on his scorecard that seem to be holding back the former Australian Open champion at the majors.
World ranking: 351
Best result in a major: on debut
The rookie earned a sponsor's invite after dominating the Australasian summer with three victories to secure Order of Merit honours. The cool-headed former amateur star tied for 67th in a creditable PGA Tour debut at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson Championship and won't be overawed on the big stage.
LEADING INTERNATIONAL CONTENDERS:
JON RAHM (ESP)
World ranking: 1
Best result in a major: champion (2021 US Open, 2023 Masters)
PGA Championships played: 6 (5 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: T3 (2018)
With five wins, two seconds and a third from his past 15 starts, the Spaniard is the new dominant force in golf. Reclaimed the top ranking from Scottie Scheffler with a four-stroke Masters triumph. Deserving favourite.
SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER (USA)
World ranking: 2
Best result in a major: champion (2022 Masters)
PGA Championships played: 3 (2 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: T4 (2020)
From PGA Tour rookie of the year in 2020 to player of the year in 2022, the American has morphed into somewhat of a golfing machine since bursting through for his maiden victory at last year's Phoenix Open, a title he defended during a stretch of 12 top-12 finishes from his past 13 starts.
RORY MCILROY (NIR)
World ranking: 3
Best result in a major: champion (2011 US Open, 2012 US PGA, 2014 British Open, 2014 US PGA)
PGA Championships played: 14 (13 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finish: champion (2012, 2014)
Boasts four worldwide wins in the past six months and, like Scheffler, was a semi-finalist at the WGC Match Play before missing the cut at the Masters and taking three weeks off to digest the disappointment. Down on confidence but no doubting the Northern Irishman's major pedigree.
BROOKS KOEPKA (USA)
World ranking: 44
Best result in a major: champion (2017, 2018 Open, 2018, 2019 US PGA)
PGA Championships played: 10 (10 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finishes: champion (2018, 2019)
The LIV Golf heavyweight confirmed the rankings folly with a joint runner-up finish with fellow breakaway star Phil Mickelson and says he finally feels back to his best after career-saving knee surgery in 2021.
DUSTIN JOHNSON (USA)
World ranking: 82
Best result in a major: champion (2016, US Open, 2020 Masters)
PGA Championships played: 13 (9 cuts made)
Best PGA Championship finishes: 2nd (2019), T2 (2020)
The former world No.1 burst back to form with a timely playoff win over Smith at LIV Golf Tulsa on Sunday. More than capable of becoming the first player from the Saudi-backed league to win a major.