Rampant Rahm eyes more major glory at PGA Championship
World No.1 Jon Rahm hopes to "ride the wave" of an incredible 2023 to yet more major glory as the strongest field of the year gathers for the PGA Championship in New York.
Rahm dominated an 88-player field featuring several ageing former champions to score a runaway four-shot victory at last month's Masters at Augusta National.
But 99 of the world's top 100 stars and a bevy of LIV Golf heavyweights, who no longer accrue world rankings points, will tee up at Oak Hill Country Club for what shapes as the most competitive tournament so far this year.
With four US tour victories already from 11 events in 2023, plus a runner-up last start in Mexico, Rahm is the favourite as he bids to become the first man since Jordan Spieth in 2015 to capture back-to-back major trophies.
No player since Brooks Koepka in 2018 has even won two majors in a single year.
But if anyone can, it's the rampant Rahm, who annexed the top ranking from Scottie Scheffler with his Masters triumph.
"It doesn't happen often that a player wins more than one major in a year, so it would be amazing to be able to join my name to that list," Rahm said.
"I'm confident. I feel good. It's been a great year. It's been an amazing year. I'm just hoping to keep adding more to it. Hopefully I can keep riding that wave."
Taking in his 2021 US Open champion victory, the Spaniard is now halfway to completing a career grand slam of the four majors.
But the 28-year-old is preferring to focus on adding to his tally rather than joining legends Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan, Gene Sarazen and Tiger Woods in that exclusive club.
"Obviously if I were to win this week or the Open Championship, it really becomes a true reality," Rahm said.
"But it's a very small number of players to do it, last one being Tiger. It's obviously not an easy thing to accomplish.
"Winning the grand slam would absolutely be amazing but, without sounding too conceited or arrogant, I'd rather focus on the number of majors you win than having the grand slam per se."
Jordan Spieth is even closer to the career grand slam, needing to win the PGA Championship to complete the set, but remains a doubtful starter on Thursday after withdrawing from last week's AT&T Byron Nelson Championship with a wrist injury.
While Rahm is undoubtedly the hottest player in golf, Scheffler is not far behind having finished no worse than 12th in his past 13 starts.
The run includes victories at the Phoenix Open and Players Championship and a fifth behind resurgent Australian Jason Day in Texas on Sunday.
"That's a great stretch of golf," Scheffler said. "When I show up to a tournament I expect to do my best and try and play well."
World No.3 Rory McIlroy missed his latest shot at the career grand slam with a deflating missed cut at Augusta that prompted the Northern Irishman to take an unscheduled break to "reset".
Striving to break a nine-year major title drought, the dual PGA champion hopes the stars align in Rochester, where his wife Erica is from and McIlroy is an honorary member at Oak Hill.
Will Zalatoris, who lost to fellow American Justin Thomas in a playoff last year at Southern Hills, is the only top 100 player not in this week's field as he recovers from back surgery.