Rory McIlroy will begin the defence of his title in the company of his fellow Major winners Martin Kaymer of Germany and Fiji’s Vijay Singh when the 95th edition of the US PGA Championship gets under way at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester, New York.
The trio, who tee off in the first round at 1.25pm on Thursday afternoon, all know what it takes to triumph at the last Major of the season, with Singh having won the US PGA Championship in 1998 and again in 2004, before Kaymer followed suit six years later.
Singh's 2004 triumph and Kaymer's in 2010 were earned after play-offs, in stark contrast to McIlroy’s triumph by a record-breaking eight shots at Kiawah Island 12 months ago.
Twenty minutes after McIlroy and co. tee off, American Phil Mickelson, England’s Justin Rose and Australian Adam Scott, respectively the reigning Open, US Open and Masters Tournament Champions, will go in search of their second Major successes of the season.
No doubt The Ryder Cup will be a hot topic of discussion between Europe’s Captain Paul McGinley and his American counterpart Tom Watson, who will take to the course at 12.35pm alongside another player who has become synonymous with golf’s greatest team event, Darren Clarke.
Davis Love III, Watson’s predecessor as America’s Captain, will get his first round underway at 8.35am in the company of the 2011 US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and World Number One Tiger Woods, who is going for a record-equalling fifth win, having won the year's final Major in 1999, 2000, 2006 and 2007.
Ten minutes later, young American Peter Uihlein, the winner of the Madeira Islands Open, will bid to enhance to his burgeoning reputation in his maiden Major appearance as a professional alongside two players with a wealth of experience in the Major arena, his compatriot Jim Furyk and Denmark’s Thomas Björn.
Other notable groupings include Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Charl Schwartzel, who precede the Woods group at 8.25am; while Schwartzel’s fellow South African Ernie Els and Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell will both bid to bring their Major pedigree to bear when they get their challenge underway alongside American Bill Haas at 8.05am.
Having come so close to winning The Open Championship, England’s Lee Westwood will go in search of his Major breakthrough alongside South African Tim Clark and big-hitting American Bubba Watson at 1.05pm.
Westwood’s compatriot Luke Donald, who is also searching for his first Major title, will tee up at 1.35pm alongside his fellow European Tour champion Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and rising American star Jordan Spieth.