1. With a victory, Jordan Spieth, 24, would become the youngest to complete the career Grand Slam and only the sixth overall.
2. Rory McIlroy, winless all season, returns to Quail Hollow, where has won two PGA Tour events.
3. Hideki Matsuyama tries for his first major title, coming off his third win of the season — with a 61 in the final round at WGC Bridgestone. “Probably the hottest player in the game,” Spieth said.
4. The weather: It’s August so there are thunderstorms everywhere. Fifty percent chance of rain Thursday, 60 percent Friday.
5. Dustin Johnson: Remember him? He appeared unbeatable before he injured his back at his Augusta rental home just before the Masters. Hasn’t won since.
ERNIE ELS AND PHIL MICKELSON, EACH PLAYING IN HIS 100TH MAJOR
1. Ernie’s first major was 1989 British Open, with Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Tom Weiskopf in the field. Phil’s first was 1990 U.S. Open, Jack Nicklaus played and Hale Irwin won
2. They have a combined nine major titles, five for Phil, four for Ernie
3. They first met in 1984 Junior World Golf Championship, when they were 14 (age of each man’s youngest child now). Els beat Mickelson to win their age bracket. Champion of the Boys 9-10 division was one Eldrick Woods
4. Phil on having played his prime years in the Tiger Era: “Had Tiger not come around, I don’t feel I would have pushed myself to achieve what I ended up achieving, because he forced everybody to get the best out of themselves.”
5. Ernie on the same topic: “I was ready to win quite a few, if you know what I mean. Then when Tiger came in ’97, him winning the Masters the way he did, you know, that kind of threw me off a little bit.”
KEEP AN EYE ON . . .
1. Brooks Koepka. U.S. Open champion is a big hitter, just right for long course with soft fairways
2. Jon Rahm. Just a rookie, but also a powerful driver
3. Justin Thomas. Made it to the final pairing at the U.S. Open, has karma as son and grandson of PGA of America members.
4. Kevin Chappell. Three top-10 finishes this year, including the Masters.
5. Wesley Bryan. First South Carolinian to win in his state (RBC Heritage this year). His dad, George, a teaching pro, played in the 1999 PGA.
1. Matt Kuchar: Handled the delay in the British Open on No. 13 and the subsequent loss to Spieth with class, becoming even more of a sympathetic figure than he already was.
2. Davis Love III: Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, playing in his 99th major.
3. Sergio Garcia: After such a long wait for his first major title, who wouldn’t want to see him win a second?
4. Jason Kokrak: Native of North Bay, Ontario now lives in Charlotte, won the Long Drive Competition Tuesday.
5. Chris Stroud: In his 290th career start, achieved his first victory last week at the Barracuda Championship and earned a last-minute invitation to the PGA Championship.
SIGNS THAT THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP IS JUST DIFFERENT
1. Twenty club pros are in the field, including Matt Dobyns of Fresh Meadow in Lake Success.
2. Players were allowed to wear shorts in practice rounds.
3. Trend is to play at tournament-tested courses, not taking a flyer on the likes of Chambers Bay or Erin Hills.
4. At the U.S. Open, Kevin Na infamously griped on Instagram about the rough. At the PGA, Na posed on Instagram with Justin Bieber.
YOU MIGHT HAVE KNOWN . . .
1. The youngest PGA champion was Gene Sarazen, 20 years, 5 months, 22 days at Oakmont in 1922
2. Julius Boros still ranks as the oldest champion of any major, having won the 1968 PGA at 48.
3. Andre Iguodala, 12 handicap, isn’t the golfer that Golden State Warrior teammate Stephen Curry is, but he is at least as passionate. Iguodala is working this tournament as a special contributor on Turner telecasts.
4. Paul Claxton, one of the 20 club pros playing, lives in Claxton, Georgia. (no relation).