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Jordan Spieth aiming to complete career grand slam and other talking points ahead of the PGA Championship

Niall McCague 2018/08/08

Justin Thomas will be bidding to defend his PGA Championship title on Thursday as the final major of the year gets underway at Bellerive Country Club.

Here, we look at five talking points ahead of the tournament.

Can Jordan Spieth complete a career grand slam?

The three-time major winner finished second behind Jason Day in 2015 – the only title to evade him to date.

The 24-year-old has had a mixed season, with a disappointing ninth place at The Open where he held the lead after three rounds.

In 2018, the right-hander has recorded two top-5, three top-10 and five top-25 finishes, including a win at the Tournament of Champions in January.

Returning to a patchy Bellerive course where the fairways are burnt from the mid-West heatwave, Spieth has another chance to join Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods in achieving a career grand slam.

Can Thomas be the first back-to-back winner since Woods in 2007?

Woods was the last player to successfully defend his PGA title, with a two-shot victory in Oklahoma back in 2007.

But Thomas’s form has been positive, with one missed cut in 25 events including a win at the WGC Invitational last week.

A repeat of last year’s heroics at Quail Hollow seem realistic and the Kentucky native certainly has the class and consistency to mount a challenge for his second major. A fast start is crucial for the 25-year-old.

What next for Woods?

The American has not played in the PGA Championship since missing the cut in 2015 – with the last of his three titles coming 11 years ago at Southern Hills.

Since returning to action after undergoing back surgery last April, Woods has recorded three top-five and four top-15 finishes, including a tie for sixth at the Open Championship.

Winning a fourth title would be a fairytale way to seal one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history and recent form suggests the 42-year-old could well be in contention for a first major since 2008.

Can Europe make it two out of two?

Francesco Molinari’s victory at the Open Championship means Europe had their first major winner in six events – stretching back to the Masters in 2017.

Although American stars Jordan Spieth, Dustin Johnson and Thomas all seem to be hitting a rich vein of form at the right time, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose could well be in with a shout after showing promise in Carnoustie last month.

But American players’ strong hold on the PGA Championship is also tight, winning three out of the last five championships.

Based on current form, it looks difficult to see anything but an American winner in Missouri this weekend, despite McIlroy, Rose and Molinari all in top condition.

What condition is the course in?

After the USGA came in for serious criticism over their approach in the US Open at Shinnecock Hills, the PGA will be determined to avoid similar mistakes at St Louis this weekend.

With June and July among the hottest months on record in Missouri history, course green keepers have been battling to improve the stressed conditions as much as possible.

As it stands the greens look patchy and burnt, meaning fast conditions could decide the winner of the final major of the season.

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Dustin Johnson Jordan Spieth Justin Thomas PGA Championship Rory McIlroy