The season's final major is here -- a few weeks earlier than normal.
Scheduling and travel concerns due to the cramped Olympic-year schedule aside, the 98th edition of the PGA Championship should be a big-time show for fans. The tournament will boast the strongest field of any golf tournament in 30 years on a lengthy, par-70 layout that should set up well for some of the game's biggest names and biggest hitters -- like Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, and Dustin Johnson. Jordan Spieth is rounding back into form. Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson just gave golf the best Sunday duel ever at the last major. The last three major champions have been first-time winners all within the World Top 12 -- could the hard-luck Sergio Garcia be next? He hasn't finished outside the top five in a tournament since May. Baltusrol seems ripe for a superstar to take home the title.
But you can't take home the Wanamaker on the first day of the event. Here's what to watch for as things get underway Thursday in Jersey on TNT.
Stars could lead before the TV coverage starts.
Who should you keep an eye on early on Thursday morning if you're following online at PGA.com with the featured groups? One of those groups will assuredly be the pairing of three of the game's biggest stars -- Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson. Day and Rory have taken home the last two PGA titles, and are the type of long hitters who are strong off the tee and could do well on Baltusrol's long par-4s.
But both have concerns heading into this week. Day saw the golf course for the first time ever just yesterday. And while advanced numbers say Rory's still been fantastic this year, he's struggled with having the single round that knocks him out of contention. He'll want to avoid that on Thursday, obviously. Mickelson will come to New Jersey off one of the best major performances of his life -- that he lost. It'll be interesting to see if he has any hangover from the loss to Stenson, at the course where he won the PGA the last time it was here in 2005.
You'll get lots of Jordan Spieth, Bubba Watson, and Sergio Garcia on your TV.
The headline group for the afternoon will feature one heckuva mix of personalities all coming into the tournament on different terms. Spieth and Watson have struggled in major championships throughout the summer, while Sergio has turned in two top fives. All three are some of the games more, uh, fickle personalities -- so watching them trudge through Baltusrol together could make for quality TV. There will also be that traditional trio of the season's first three major winners -- DJ, Willett, and Stenson -- going at 1:45 p.m ET.
Here's the full broadcast schedule for Thursday. Ernie Johnson and Ian Baker-Finch will be on the call for TNT.
Thursday's first-round coverage (All times ET)
1-7 p.m. -- TNT
8:30 a.m - 7 p.m. -- Marquee groups on PGA.com and on mobile via PGA Championship app
- 8:30 a.m. -- Rory McIlroy / Phil Mickelson / Jason Day
- 9:30 a.m. -- Adam Scott / Keegan Bradley / Jamie Donaldson
1-7 p.m. -- TV simulcast stream on PGA.com and on mobile via PGA Championship app
Noon - 7 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 92/208)
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