Adam Scott finished third in the PGA last year. Image: Getty
Eight Australians will compete in the second major of the year, the US PGA Championship, this week in Bethpage State Park in New York.
The regulars – Jason Day, Adam Scott, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith – will be assisted by European Tour star Lucas Herbert, Tour dominator Brendan Jones from Japan and American-American club professionals Stuart Deane and Craig Hocknull in the field.
Leishman returns from a recent shock with a back injury and it may be relative veteran Scott, who was third in this tournament last year, who has the best hope of the Australians. The Queenslander has already had three top 10 finishes this season
Herbert, 23, is just playing his third major player who played brilliantly last year during the European Tour, while Deane and New Guinea-born Hocknull are among the group of 20 PGA professionals who have earned a start in the field.
The tough course Bethpage Black, host to the US Open championships of 2002 and 2009, presents itself as a major challenge for the players, although it is unlikely that it will be brutally set up by the US PGA as it was by the USGA during the previous Opens. In 2002, when Tiger Woods won there, he was the only player who parried.
It is the appearance of Masters champion Woods that will create much of interest in New York this week, and the 15-fold big winner declared himself "rested and ready" after skipping all the tournaments since Augusta National, where he pursued his pursuit Jack Nicklaus & # 39; resumed record of 18 majors.
Woods, who has been practicing at Bethpage for a few days, acknowledged that it was satisfactory to still be in the mix at the age of 43. "It's great to be part of the story," he said. "My story covers 20 years now, slightly more than 20 years. If you look at the most players or the players who have had the most success on tour, you are not measured as an NFL football player when you are in the Hall of Honor after nine years
"If you've played here for nine years, you haven't done so well. You are measured in decades. Arnold Palmer played in 50 straight Masters. It's just done differently. Due to the nature of the sport we can hang around much longer and A nice thing about this championship here is that when Jack played in his last PGA in 2000, I played with him, he said he played with Gene Sarazen in his last PGA.
"So the fact that golf can span almost, what, 60, 70 years and careers, that makes it so special."
Woods said he would have liked to play after the Masters, but did not feel mentally ready. Not to mention his back, which must be continuously managed after his merger operation two years ago. "The body doesn't respond like it used to, it doesn't bounce so well, so I have to be aware of that," he said. "I feel this way every day. I don't know how painful I will be the next morning. I don't. That's the capricious nature of my spinal cord. On some days I have more freedom of movement. Some days I don't have. On some days I have more pain, and sometimes not.
"There is more volatility, so to speak. There are more days that I feel older than my age than I do younger than my age. That is one of the more difficult things. And then you add the wave component."
Woods also said today that he would like to represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympics. The former world number 1, who can reclaim the top mantle if he wins this week at Bethpage, pulls off at 10.24pm on Thursday's Australian Eastern time in the first round.
The coverage of the American PGA starts at 3 o'clock in the morning on Fox Sports.
AUSTRALIAN TIMES (AEST THURSDAY / FRIDAY)
Adam Scott 9.40pm Thursday
Brendan Jones 9.51pm Thursday
Lucas Herbert 10.57 pm Thursday
Jason Day 3.38am Friday
Cameron Smith 3.49am
Marc Leishman 4am
Stuart Deane 4.11am
Craig Hocknull 4.22am