USPGA: 2015’s final Major showdown

A preview of the USPGA Championship at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin

Rory McIlroy will defend his USPGA title at Whistling Straits
Rory McIlroy will defend his USPGA title at Whistling Straits
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Rory McIlroy returns from injury to defend his USPGA Championship title at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Jordan Spieth is gunning for a third Major title in 2015.

Lowdown: Rory McIlroy returns from injury to defend his USPGA Championship title at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin. Jordan Spieth is gunning for a third Major title in 2015.

98 of the world’s top-100 players will tee it up on the shores of Lake Michigan this week to do battle for the year’s fourth and final Major Championship. Masters and U.S. Open winner Jordan Spieth is looking to join Tiger Woods and Ben Hogan as the only men to have won three Major titles in a calendar year.

Open champion Zach Johnson, defending USPGA champion Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth have been paired together for the first two days meaning the holders of all four Major titles will be in the same group.

After injuring his ankle playing football just prior to the Scottish Open at Gullane, Rory McIlroy will make a welcome return to competitive action this week. He’ll be looking to claim a third USPGA title, having won the event in 2012 and again in 2014.

Rory Mcilroy on how he became a champion:

Last year the Northern Irishman came through a back nine tussle with Phil Mickelson, Henrik Stenson and Rickie Fowler at Valhalla in Kentucky. In fading light, McIlroy held on by a single shot to pick up his second consecutive Major title – he had also won The Open Championship at Hoylake.

Last time the USPGA was contested at Whistling Straits it was Martin Kaymer of Germany who came out on top, defeating Bubba Watson in a playoff. Dustin Johnson might also have featured in extra holes had he not accidentally grounded his club in a waste area on the 18th hole that was actually classified as a bunker. He incurred a penalty stroke and finished one shot behind.

The course at Whistling Straits is a Pete Dye design dating from 1998. It’s characterised by its wispy grasses and links-like appearance. There are over 1,000 bunkers across the track. It’s a favourite of the PGA – this is the third time it’s hosted the USPGA Championship and it will welcome the Ryder Cup in 2020. It’s a rugged and striking layout where the wind off Lake Michigan tends to be a factor. The course is constructed on an abandoned airfield and plays along two miles of the Great Lake’s shoreline.

Four-time champion Tiger Woods will tee it up again this week hoping to save his season. Currently 185th in the FedEx Cup, Tiger needs a strong finish at Whistling Straits if he’s to make it into the Playoffs – the top 125 after next week’s Wyndham Championship go on to The Barclays. Tiger has said his performance this week will determine whether he plays in the Wyndham.

Venue: Whistling Straits, Kohler, Wisconsin Date: Aug 13-16 Course stats: par 72, 7,514 yards Purse: $10,000,000 Winner: $1,800,000 Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy (-16)

TV Coverage: Thursday 13 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm Friday 14 – Sky Sports 4 from 7pm Saturday 15 – Sky Sports 4 from 4pm Sunday 16 – Sky Sports 4 from 4pm

Player watch: Obviously a great amount of attention will be on the duel between Rory and Jordan, but there are many others who could be considered favourites:

Bubba Watson – Lost in a playoff here in 2010 and finished second in the Bridgestone Invitational last week. He’ll surely contend again this time out.

Jason Day – He’s knocked on the door in a number of Major Championships and, sooner or later, someone will leave it ajar and he’ll walk through. He just missed out in The Open at St Andrews then went on to win in Canada.

Hideki Matsuyama – Another player who definitely has the game to win a Major. He didn’t play particularly well at Firestone but prior to that he had recorded 11 consecutive top-25 finishes.

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.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and the history section of "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin , also of Golf Monthly. 

Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?