Jordan Spieth has been the dominant name in professional golf this year, and he will once again enter as the favorite at the PGA Championship this weekend.
But Spieth will face a tough field at the Whistling Straits Golf Course in Wisconsin, one that will be bolstered by the return of the world’s number one ranked golfer, Rory McIlroy.
McIlroy is also the defending champion at the PGA Championship, and in almost any circumstance, his stature would likely make him at least a co-favorite with Spieth.
But while the young American has been lighting up courses all summer long, McIlroy hasn’t played since mid-June, when he suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the British Open.
McIlroy Coming Back from Ankle Injury
McIlroy confirmed that while his ankle may not be completely healed, it is more than ready for four days of golf.
“To play golf, it’s 100 percent,” McIlroy told ESPN. “To go back on a soccer pitch, it wouldn’t be quite ready. But to do what I need to do this week, it’s 100 percent.”
That’s enough to make Spieth the clear choice heading into this weekend’s tournament. Spieth is listed at 6-1 at many sportsbooks, far ahead of McIlroy, who is the consensus second choice at 10-1.
Spieth won both the Masters and the US Open earlier this season, and finished just one shot back of entering a playoff at the British Open.
It’s an incredible run, and only that one stroke eliminated the possibility of the 22-year-old Spieth completing a Grand Slam this year by winning all four majors.
Spieth Looking for Third Major of the Year
However, the possibility of an “American Slam” is still open if Spieth could win the PGA Championship.
That is the designation that has been given to the potential feat of winning all three majors that take place on US soil, though Spieth isn’t letting the possibility get to his head quite yet.
“I recognize that there’s only been a couple times that people have won three majors in a year, and that would be just special company,” Spieth said. “But just like at the Open Championship, when I get there, it’s just going to be about that tournament, and that’s all that will be on my mind.”
As much as many golf fans will want to look at the tournament as a duel between Spieth and McIlroy, there are more than a few other golfers who are likely to be in the mix this weekend. Jason Day (12-1), Bubba Watson (14-1), and Dustin Johnson (16-1) are among the favorites, while British Open champion Zach Johnson is a long shot at 50-1 odds.
Tiger Enters Tournament as Long Shot
As always, there’s sure to be plenty of attention paid to the results of Tiger Woods. Despite his recent struggles, Woods is still a fan favorite, and many will be pulling for him to put together a good result even if he is unlikely to win the event: sportsbooks have him listed at 60-1 to take home his 15th career major.
Woods, who has battled injuries in recent years, has seen his World Golf Ranking fall to 278th.
“I’m just trying to get better,” said Woods, who is still working his way back into form after the back surgery he went through last year. “I’m trying to get up there where I can win tournaments, get my game organized that I can be consistent, where I can give myself a chance to win each and every event I play in. That’s what I have done over most of my career and I’d like to get to that point again.”