PGA Championship 2018: Key players to watch

Bob Sowards

Ten years after his last major victory and five years since his last triumph, Tiger Woods is back on the prowl and a new generation of rivals couldn't be more thrilled.

Playing partner Justin Thomas opened with a birdie.

Woods, the headliner in an all-star group with four-times major victor Rory McIlroy and defending champion Justin Thomas, got off to a horrific bogey, double-bogey start and spent the rest of his round undoing the damage to salvage a level-par 70.

For his part, Woods admits he will have plenty of homework to do as he looks to claim a 15th major title in the US PGA Championship.

"I think, in my generation we were all looking up to him, especially around 2000, 2001, 2002", offered an unruffled Molinari.

According to ESPN's panel, Thomas, McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, and Justin Thomas all have a shot to win. The only thing I haven't done is win enough.

Rain pounded Bellerive Country Club, twice suspending practice rounds.

"I'll try as hard as I can", Woods said.

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The PGA Championship's first round is being televised on TNT beginning at 2 p.m. E.T. Koepka will go off shortly after 2 p.m.

McIlroy won the Arnold Palmer Invitational in brilliant style earlier this season, carding a final round of 64 at Bay Hill to win by three shots and claim his first victory since the week before the 2016 Ryder Cup.

The championship favourite is Dustin Johnson, while the three previous major winners this year will all play together. I'm 42 now and I've had four back surgeries. He had another solid performance (T31) last week, and it seems only a matter of time before he gets that first win since 2013. "If you look at (Tuesday), we came back out to play after finishing nine holes (and getting stopped by thunderstorms) and the atmosphere was nearly like a Saturday of a tournament".

The USGA is often criticized for its U.S. Open setups, whether that's because of long, thick rough or penal green speeds that are created to produce a specific winning score.

Massive crowds greeted Woods at his first PGA since 2015, all clamoring for a glimpse of him as he walked from the practice range to the first hole at Bellerive Country Club.

The broadcaster has the rights to the 2018 PGA Championship, La Liga, Serie A, Eredivisie, Chinese Super League and Swedish Allsvenskan in the UK.

"I'm ready and eager to play", Thomas said. "I started to get out of that shadow", Thomas said. Now he just has to figure out how to get through Saturday. "It is their major championship".

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