The year’s final Major gets underway this week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Y.E. Yang defends at the PGA Championship, Tiger Woods will not start as favourite, Lee Westwood is out and Phil Mickelson has injury concerns.

After a dismal performance in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last week, Tiger Woods will not start as favourite for the 92nd PGA Championship. Most bookmakers have given the shortest odds to Phil Mickelson.

But Tiger has been working hard to get his game back in shape for the year’s final Major. He travelled straight to Wisconsin on Sunday after he’d completed his final round at the Bridgestone, has been practising since then and has even called on the advice of a swing coach. Sean Foley who works with Hunter Mahan and Sean O’Hair walked part of a practice round with Tiger on Tuesday.
Asked if Foley could take on a permanent role, the World Number 1 answered, “Certainly it’s a possibility, no doubt.”

In a press conference yesterday, Woods was far more positive about the state of his game.

“One of the things I’m excited about over the last few days is I made some good progress, and I’ve got one more day tomorrow,” he said.

World Number 2 Phil Mickelson revealed in a press conference that he’s been suffering this year with an arthritic condition that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells and tissue. He’s been waking in the morning with pain in his wrist and ankle. But he was quick to dispel any concerns over the condition.

“First of all, I don’t want excuses,” he said. “I feel confident it’s not going to affect my career.”

The European challenge has been slightly diminished with the withdrawal of Lee Westwood but a strong contingent from this side of the Atlantic has made the journey to Whistling Straits. 13 English player are in the field including Luke Donald, Paul Casey and Ian Poulter. US Open champion Graeme McDowell is joined by fellow Northern Irishmen Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke. Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry represent Ireland, while Rhys Davies will tee it up for Wales and Stephen Gallacher, Martin Laird and Colin Montgomerie will be there for Scotland.

Whistling Straits, owned by Kohler Company is a Pete Dye creation that seeks to replicate a British links course. It’s an open and rugged layout where the wind off Lake Michigan is a significant factor. The course is constructed on an abandoned airfield and plays along two miles of the Great Lake’s shoreline.

The course last hosted the PGA Championship in 2004, an event that was won by Vijay Singh.

Whistling Straits, Wisconsin
Date: Aug 12-15
Course stats: par 72, 7,507 yards
Purse: $7,500,000 Winner: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Y.E. Yang (-8)

TV Coverage:

Thursday 12 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 7pm
Friday 13 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 6.30pm
Saturday 14 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 4pm
Sunday 15 – Live on Sky Sports 2 from 4pm

Player Watch:
Sean O’Hair – He’s enjoying an extremely consistent season and has performed well in the last two Majors. He was in contention last week at Firestone and will surely continue that good form this week.
Rory McIlroy – McIlroy snuck into the top-10 at the Bridgestone last week and looks full of confidence. He would have challenged at the Open had it not been for a disastrous second round of 80. He will win a Major sooner or later, why not sooner?
Steve Stricker – The American is playing in his home state this week. He’s a supremely solid and patient player and he already has two PGA Tour victories to his name this season.

Key hole: 17th. A par 3 of 223 yards, this is an extremely intimidating tee shot. The green hangs precariously to the edge of the land and anything travelling left will fall off a steep drop towards Lake Michigan. The safe shot is out to the right but stray too far and sand dunes and bunkers await.

Skills required: Shot-making. There’s likely to be a wind to contend with, there are numerous bunkers to avoid and escape from, the ground should be firm and running – It will play something like a links course.

More USPGA Championship:

USPGA Championship golf blog
Whistling Straits hole by hole course guide
USPGA Championship news
Pictures from the 92nd PGA Championship