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5 contenders as Justin Thomas sets out to defend US PGA Championship crown

Justin Thomas will defend his title when the 105th US PGA Championship takes place at Oak Hill Country Club from May 18-21.

Thomas is bidding to win his third US PGA title at a venue which last staged the event in 2013, when it was won by Jason Dufner.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the main contenders for the year’s second major championship.

Jon Rahm

Jon Rahm
Masters champion Jon Rahm will be seeking a third major title in the 105th US PGA (Moises Castillo/AP)

Rahm’s brilliant early-season form had taken a slight dip before the Masters as he finished 39th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, withdrew from the Players Championship due to a stomach virus and failed to reach the knockout stages in the WGC Dell Match Play.

Rahm then four-putted the first hole at Augusta National but responded superbly to shoot an opening 65 on his way to a four-shot victory and second major title. Has two top 10s in six US PGA appearances with a best of tied fourth at Bellerive in 2018.

Brooks Koepka

Koepka won back-to-back US PGA titles in 2018 and 2019 in a run of eight major appearances which yielded a total of four victories and a runners-up finish in the 2019 Masters.

The big-hitting American also recorded three top-six finishes in majors in 2021, but was not a factor in 2022 as he struggled with injuries and a loss of form.

Admitted recently his decision to join LIV Golf would have been much harder if he had been fully fit but looked close to his best as he threatened to lead from start to finish in the Masters before being overhauled by Rahm.

Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler has won twice and finished no worse than 12th this season on the PGA Tour (Stephen B. Morton/AP)

Was unable to join Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo and Tiger Woods in winning back-to-back Masters titles, although a share of 10th at Augusta ensured his worst result in 2023 remains a tie for 12th in the Genesis Invitational.

Has played just three times in the US PGA, finishing fourth in 2020 and eighth in 2021 before missing the cut at Southern Hills last year.

Currently leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained off the tee and tee to green, as well as greens in regulation, but is ranked just 89th in total putting.

Rory McIlroy

Despite losing his semi-final of the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play from two up with three to play, McIlroy left Austin Country Club feeling “really bullish” about the state of his game and his chances of completing the career grand slam at Augusta.

In reality, rounds of 72 and 77 meant a dispiriting early exit and McIlroy withdrew from the RBC Heritage citing the need for a break following an eventful period on and off the course. McIlroy finished eighth in defence of his title at Oak Hill in 2013, is a member of the club and also a fan of the recent renovation of the East Course.

Matt Fitzpatrick

Matt Fitzpatrick
Matt Fitzpatrick holds the championship trophy after beating Jordan Spieth in a play-off to win the RBC Heritage (Stephen B. Morton/AP)

Began the Masters stressing the need for low expectations after an injury-hit start to the season, but finished 10th at Augusta and seven days later defeated Jordan Spieth in a thrilling play-off for the RBC Heritage.

Had a poor record in the US PGA before finishing fifth last year, missing the play-off by two shots after playing the final round in the last group. A month later found himself in the same position in the US Open at Brookline and produced a brilliant bunker shot on the 72nd hole to seal a first major title.

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