Rory McIlroy is bookies favourite this week at Quail Hollow whilst Jordan Spieth aims to become the youngest man to win the career grand slam

USPGA Championship Preview: McIlroy Favourite As Spieth Goes For Career Grand Slam

Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina plays host to its first major this week as the 2017 USPGA Championship rolls into town.

Jimmy Walker defends the title he won last year at Baltusrol, where he claimed his first major with a one stroke victory over defending champion and the world number one at the time, Jason Day.

Related: USPGA Championship tee times

The American is in the field this week and back in form, after suffering with Lyme Disease this year, but it’s another Texan who is stealing the headlines coming into Quail Hollow.

USPGA Championship Preview

Jimmy Walker defends this week. (Photo by Kohjiro Kinno /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

Jordan Spieth comes into this week fresh off of his Open Championship victory, and is looking to become the youngest ever golfer to win the career grand slam.

After winning the 2015 Masters and US Open, then this year’s Open, it is only the USPGA Championship missing from his illustrious CV.

If he were to win, he would do so six months earlier than Tiger Woods wrapped up the career grand slam in 2000 at St Andrews.

USPGA Championship Preview

Spieth could wrap up the career grand slam this week. (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

And Spieth isn’t even the favourite with the bookies this week…

Rory McIlroy comes in as favourite after a T4th at the Open and a T5th at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

The world number four recorded his first PGA Tour win at Quail Hollow back in 2010 at the Quail Hollow Championship, when he shot a course record 10 under par 62 in the final round.

He won the tournament again in 2015, lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler in 2012, finished T10th in 2013 and T8th in 2014.

USPGA Championship Preview

McIlroy has his childhood best friend Harry Diamond on the bag

Armed with a new caddie, and having got rid of some of the rust from not playing whilst suffering from a rib injury, McIlroy has been walking with confidence in the past few weeks, hitting the ball superbly well and even holing some putts.

Related: Who is Rory McIlroy’s new caddie Harry Diamond?

What’s more, the Ulsterman has of course won two USPGA Championships already, with his last coming back in 2014 at Valhalla – which was also his last major win to date.

The course

Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Par 71, 7600 yards

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Course changes

This will be a slightly different Quail Hollow this week, and that may have an influence on scoring.

The changes have been made with this year’s USPGA in mind, as well as the 2021 Presidents Cup at Quail Hollow.

The 2017 Wells Fargo Championship was moved this year to Eagle Point because of the USPGA Championship, and work started on the changes as soon as the final group teed off on Sunday back at the 2016 Wells Fargo.

USPGA Championship Preview

The new par-3 fourth hole.

Three new holes have been built, fairways have been restructured, greens have been reshaped and areas have been designed for grandstands.

The greens have been changed to ‘Champion Ultradwarf Bermudagrass’ which should mean they roll absolutely perfect.

Thousands of trees have been removed to both reshape the course and allow more sunlight onto the new greens, whilst some may have been taken out to allow grandstands as well.

The first and second holes have been merged into one, a new 540-yard par-4, a new par-3 fourth hole has been built and the fifth has changed from a par-5 to a par-4.

Player watch

Rory McIlroy – The world number four is quite rightly the favourite this week with his form coming into the USPGA, his form at Quail Hollow, and his form with two previous USPGA Championship wins.

Jordan Spieth – The Texan will be getting a lot of attention this week as he goes for the career grand slam. He finished in a tie for 13th last week at the WGC-Bridgestone after a week off celebrating with his Claret Jug.

Hideki Matsuyama – It’s hard to believe Hideki hasn’t won a major, and it could be this week where he could win his first of many. The world number three won his second WGC, and second since November, last week and has now won in six of his last 20 starts. Don’t forget how he could/should have won this tournament last year but had a dreadful day on the greens in the final round to finish in a tie for fourth.

TV Coverage

The TV coverage will be slightly different this week, with the BBC taking charge of the broadcast here in the UK.

They are also showing the World Athletics Championship so most of the action will be behind the red button or on iPlayer, but the conclusion of each day’s play will be live on the main channel.

Thursday 10 August

1800-0015 – BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer

2320-0015 – BBC Two

2200-0100 – Radio 5 live sports extra

Friday 11 August

1800-0015 – BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer

2305-0015 – BBC Two

2200-0100 – Radio 5 live sports extra

Saturday 12 August

1900-0015 – BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer

2230-0015 – BBC Two

2200-0100 – Radio 5 live sports extra

Sunday 13 August

1900-0015 – BBC Red Button, BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer

2200-0015 – BBC Two

2200-0100 – Radio 5 live