Why The 2024 PGA Championship Could Be The Major We’ve All Been Waiting For

The second men's Major of the year is right around the corner and it has all the hallmarks of a classic

Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka hold trophies
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The stage is set for the second men’s Major of the year at the PGA Championship and, despite the still-fractured nature of the sport, it could be one for the ages.

All the major pieces are in position and primed to arrive at Valhalla, the host course for this year’s PGA Championship, and do battle across four days for the Wanamaker Trophy.

No matter where you look there is intrigue, piqued by Rory McIlroy’s devastating demolition of Xander Schauffele as the swashbuckling Northern Irishman swaggered his way to a fourth Wells Fargo Championship victory at Quail Hollow.

Despite being only 35, it was like the McIlroy of old, the young lad from Hollywood who imposed his will on courses and competitors.

It’s been 10 years since that McIlroy won the last of his four Majors at the venue poised to welcome the game’s best this week. It could prove to be the missing piece of the puzzle that helps him finally end his drought in the game’s biggest events.

“If not now, when?” is the question that has preceded many of McIlroy’s Major flops and near-misses in the barren decade, but it feels like this is the crescendo.

At Quail Hollow, the brute of a layout in Charlotte he has made a home from home, McIlroy looked like the player touted as the natural successor of Tiger Woods. Back was his ability to dominate a golf course like few before him, reducing 500-yard par-4s to a drive and a flick.

He admitted afterwards that when the big stick is firing, it frees up the rest of his game and the stats back that up.

Across the four days, he ranked second off the tee, fourth in approach play, fifth around the greens, and eighth in putting. A potent combination.

He had been searching for his game this year after a good start in the desert in Dubai, but it seems an emergency visit to see Butch Harmon is now bearing fruit.

It didn’t pay dividends in time to challenge at The Masters, but in the five weeks since, he has found the “little spark” he was looking for.

Asked what he felt had been missing, he said: “I don't know. I think part of it was technical, I was missing a lot of shots left. Then missing those shots left, not having full confidence in what I was doing with my swing, and that sort of bleeds into the rest of your game.

“I've always said whenever I'm driving the ball well and hitting the ball well it feeds into my short game and my putting and I can get confidence from that.

“There was signs of life [in] San Antonio [and] Augusta, but getting that little spark in New Orleans and getting the win there with Shane [Lowry] definitely gave me a lot of confidence.”

Rory McIlroy holds the Wells Fargo Championship trophy

(Image credit: Getty Images)

A confident Rory is a dangerous Rory, but we have been here before. Several times. The game has also changed drastically since he last lifted the Wanamaker Trophy in near darkness in 2014.

If he is going to win, he will need to conquer the contenders who will be just as eager for glory.

Like McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka also come into the tournament on the back of wins. In Scheffler’s case, four in his last five starts.

The World No. 1 is the undisputed kingpin of the men’s game after a run of golf that, if sustained, will see him rival Woods’ greatest stretches.

Titles at Bay Hill and TPC Sawgrass were followed by a T2 at the Texas Children’s Houston Open after he missed a six-footer for the playoff, but he brushed that off to slip on a second Green Jacket at Augusta National and then cruise to another victory at the RBC Heritage.

Assuming he tees it up this week, it would be unfathomable to think he won’t be there or thereabouts come Sunday evening, while PGA Championship specialist Koepka also appears to be hitting his stride.

Koepka was disappointed with his performance at Augusta after a T45 finish but is now back at the tournament he has already won three times with rejuvenated vigour.

Not only is he the defending champion, but after tightening up his game, he is also fresh from a two-shot triumph at LIV Singapore last Sunday.

Koepka posted 15-under for the three rounds and held off an ever-strengthening field to pick up his fourth individual LIV title, but it is the Majors he truly covets.

With five to McIlroy’s four and Scheffler’s two, he is in pole position to go down as the most prolific Major champion of this era and you’d be brave to bet against him. For when the stakes are highest, Koepka possesses that rare ability to elevate his performance level.

Should this trio of protagonists perform like they can, it promises to be an epic showdown, and that is to not mention the rest of the storylines.

There is to be a strong LIV contingent in attendance, including the likes of Jon Rahm and Cameron Smith. Rahm, in particular, must be desperate to prove his move to the breakaway circuit hasn't impacted his game.

Jon Rahm at LIV Golf Singapore

(Image credit: Getty Images)

The Spaniard hasn't won since signing his mega-money deal to defect from the PGA Tour and finished alongside Koepka at Augusta, 20 shots adrift of Scheffler.

No longer can he regularly test himself against the best players in the world so these four events carry even more significance.

As they have always done for a certain Tiger Woods, who has already been busy getting a feel for the course.

Woods' preparation for this Major feels different than it has for any other since his 2021 car crash. Far less last minute and much more coordinated, implying his physical condition is slowly improving.

There will always be a question mark over his ability to walk 72 holes, but should the weather cooperate and Woods summon what is left of his game, there is a chance he could still thrust himself into the mix. 

Rarely have so many of the best players in the world been on such form coming into a Major, and at a time when a resolution to unify men's pro golf feels just as far away as it did nearly 12 months ago when talk of a merger first broke, this could be exactly what the game needs right now.

Andrew Wright
Freelance News Writer

A lifelong golf fan, Andy graduated in 2019 with a degree in Sports Journalism and got his first role in the industry as the Instruction Editor for National Club Golfer. From there, he decided to go freelance and now covers a variety of topics for Golf Monthly. 

Andy took up the game at the age of seven and even harboured ambitions of a career in the professional ranks for a spell. That didn’t pan out, but he still enjoys his weekend golf at Royal Troon and holds a scratch handicap. As a side note, he's made five holes-in-one and could quite possibly be Retief Goosen’s biggest fan.

As well as the above, some of Andy's work has featured on websites such as goal.com, dailyrecord.co.uk, and theopen.com.

What's in Andy's bag?

Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub-Zero (9°)

3-wood: TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus (15°)

Driving iron: Titleist U500 (17°)

Irons: Mizuno mp32 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM9 (50°, 54° and 58°)

Putter: Titleist Scotty Cameron Newport 2.5

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x