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PGA Championship insider

Rory McIlroy, right, of Northern Ireland, Rickie Fowler,

Rory McIlroy, right, of Northern Ireland, Rickie Fowler, center, of the United States and caddie JP Fitzgerald talk on a green during a practice round before the 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol Golf Club on July 27, 2016 in Springfield, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images/Stuart Franklin

Their season could become great with a win this week

1) Jason Day. Defending champion, like the other members of the “New Big Three,” has not won a major in 2016. As host, served ribeye steak at champions dinner Tuesday but doesn’t feel like this is a defense. “I really look at it as I need to come back in and try to execute a game plan.”

2) Rory McIlroy. When asked to describe his season in one word, he called it “Neutral.” Asked to give it a grade, he said “B-minus.” That all could change by Sunday, though, for the golfer who won two PGA Championships in the previous four years.

3) Jordan Spieth. Statistics released by the European Tour show Spieth has had 46 birdies and eagles in major championships this season, which is more than anyone else (Sergio Garcia is second with 45). Just needs to cut down on quadruple bogeys.

Best player never to have won a major, post-Dustin Johnson/Henrik Stenson Edition (A considerably thinner category now)

1) Sergio Garcia. Made a splash at 19 with second-place finish at 1999 PGA, making golf observers believe he was on way to multiple majors. He’s not sweating it, though. At 36, he still is four years younger than Stenson. “If it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to change my life,” he said yesterday. “I’m not going to go in a cave and, you know, kind of stay there until I die because I didn’t win a major.”

2) Lee Westwood. Tied for second at the Masters this year. But at 43, time might be running out for the 25-time winner on European and PGA Tours to be on “best” list (see Steve Stricker, 49).

3) Rickie Fowler. After winning the Players Championship in 2015 and strong showings in all four majors in 2014, he missed the cut in the Masters and U.S. Open this year and tied for 46th at the British Open.

4)Brandt Snedeker. Eight PGA Tour victories

5) Matt Kuchar. Seven PGA Tour victories

Why Dustin Johnson is a good pick to win

1) Baltusrol finishes with two par-5s and he hits it so long, he has big advantage on par 5s

2) Can reach No. 1 in the world with a victory this week

3) Has eight top 10s in majors over past three years, has been in top 10 in his last six tournaments overall, including wins at U.S. Open and Bridgestone.

4) Vastly improved wedge play. “I’ve actually practiced my wedge game this year for the first time probably since I’ve been on tour,” he said.

5) Doesn’t get nervous, or terribly upset about anything (except bad drivers on roads). When he was asked if he felt different in the British Open as a major champion, he said, “Not much. Not much changes with me.”

Things to know about Andrew (Beef) Johnston

1) Englishman got his nickname not because of dining habits but because a friend once looked at his shaggy hair and called him “Beefhead.”

2) But he does love to eat meat. Inscribed on his 58-degree wedge: Brisket. Sirloin. Tri-Tip Flank. Filet Mignon. Porterhouse. T-Bone.

3) Became social media sensation after he won Open de Espana and said, “I can’t wait to get hammered.” Explained his approach yesterday, saying, “The more I’ve been myself, the more comfortable I’ve felt out on the golf course.”

4) A group of fans showed up at Baltusrol Tuesday with fake beards made to look like his famous unkempt real one. He will go to London to get it trimmed next week.

5) Signed promotional deal with Arby’s, went behind an Arby’s counter in Manhattan Saturday then took his agent to Katz’s Deli Sunday. He said, “I can’t find a better place that does pastrami, man. That thing’s unreal.”

Things to know about this PGA at Baltusrol

1) Parents of long-drive champion Byeong Hun An were both medalists in table tennis at 1988 Olympics.

2) Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand, a grip-and-rip golfer known as the John Daly of Asia, is in the field. So is Daly.

3) Course is named for Baltus Roll, who was murdered by intruders on his nearby farm in 1831

4) PGA does have a champions dinner, although it’s not as well attended or legendary as the one at the Masters. Bobby Nichols, the 1964 champion, recalled that he told the gathering in 1965 that all former winners would have to chip in to pay for it, starting with the one from 1942. Sam Snead, the ’42 champion, tried to sneak out before someone told him it was a joke.


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