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PGA Championship: Major Debut at 61 After 20 Years Without Playing Golf

40 years ago, he was considered one of the greatest golf talents in the USA, won national junior championships and wanted to become a tour pro. Then he got injured and the dream was over. But things got even worse for Tracy Phillips: Yips meant that he didn’t touch a club for 20 years, although he continued to work as a PGA Pro. Now, at the age of 61, he is taking part in a major for the first time at the PGA Championship. A truly crazy story.

A slipped disc halted his young career, reports in a detailed story about the man who not only topped the US amateur rankings as a junior, but also later went to university on a golf scholarship. After an eight-month injury break due to a herniated disc, he had lost his “natural swing”, says Phillips. With a lot of work and training, he wanted to get back to his old level, but it was at a pro-am in Wyoming that he felt for the first time that something was wrong. “The first hole was a par-5 and there was an in-course out of bounds to the right and there was an out-of-bounds pasture to the left. I stepped up and proceeded to hit a driver on the range, hit a driver out of bounds left and then finally just hit a 7-iron down the fairway just to get it in. I think at that time, it was just like, it was obvious — I was just toast.” quotes Phillips as saying.

At 61: Playing the PGA Championship for the First Time

The search for his old form had tired him so much that at some point he no longer felt like playing. Yips, those uncontrolled muscle twitches that all golfers fear, were the reason. They usually occur when putting, but the now 61-year-old experienced them time and again with the driver. Not only did this make a career on the tour impossible, it also made it impossible to even put a ball in play.

Like his father, who was a golf teacher for 40 years, he concentrated on his pupils. And didn’t play golf himself for 20 years. It was only the persuasion of a few friends that convinced him to return to the golf course. While he enjoyed playing with his buddies again, he also steadily improved. A few qualifying tournaments later, he had already qualified for the US Club Pro Championships again and competed there for several years. Even though he missed the cut more often than he made it, his passion was rekindled.

Philipps has already played several majors on the senior tour in recent years (and made cuts), even if he doesn’t regularly compete against Bernhard Langer and co. He has now made it into the field of a men’s major for the first time via the qualifying tournaments of the PGA of America. At the age of 61 and after a 20-year break. “The very thing that took me out of the game for 20 years is kind of my strong suit.,” says Phillips, delighted with his renewed love for his driver.

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“It’s concerning”: Rory McIlroy On PGA-LIV Merger

After back-to-back wins Rory McIlroy is pretty confident going into the PGA Championship 2024. With a good game state and the momentum on his side, the Northern Irishman eyes with his first major title in ten years. In his press conference McIlroy excluded all questions about his personal life, leaving his recently filed divorce for this interview.

Rory McIlroy about the PGA Championship 2024: “I have a lot of confidence and quite a bit of momentum “

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, we are very pleased with welcome Rory McIlroy to the 106th PGA Championship. I believe you all saw the statement yesterday from Rory’s communication team specifically that he will not be making any additional comments on his private life, so thank you all for respecting his wishes.

A win on Sunday at Quail Hollow and you won the last major championship here at Valhalla ten years ago. How do you feel coming into this week?

RORY McILROY: I feel good. Obviously had a great day on Sunday at a golf course that I’ve grown to love over the years and had a lot of success at, coming to a venue where I’ve had some success at before as well.

Obviously get to go back to Quail Hollow every year. Don’t really get to come back here too much. Today was the first time I was on the golf course since ten years ago, so it was good to refamiliarize myself with the place.

The golf course is a little different than it was ten years ago, a little longer. A couple little minor changes but for the most part pretty much the same that I can remember from ten years ago.

But yeah, look, game feels good coming off the back of two wins, a fun one in New Orleans with Shane, and then a really good performance last week.

Just trying to keep the momentum going.

Q. How long has it been since you had this level of confidence in your game, and what other than the victories, what in the technical part of it is giving you that confidence?

RORY McILROY: Yes, I would say — I think I was asked this question last week. I went on a run last summer, sort of from — it was actually after this tournament. I felt like my game wasn’t in really good shape after Oak Hill. Sort of needed to reset, work on a few things.

But then I came back out. I played Memorial, Canada, U.S. Open, Travelers, Scottish Open, Open, Playoffs. That stretch of golf, I think I had, like, ten top 10s in a row. I got the win in Scotland.

So my game felt pretty — it doesn’t seem like that long ago that my game has felt this good. But I would say from a technical standpoint, some of the shots that I hit last week, some of the three-quarter shots, some of the wedge shots, some of the iron shots, combined with, you know, how good I feel with the driver at the minute, you know, when I can see those three-quarter shots and those wedge shots going and starting on the right line, you know, that obviously gives me a lot of confidence.

Q. We’ve talked through the years about how you’ve tried to go back to a mentality of just show up somewhere, play a practice round, and then go out there and play free. When you come back here, do you think of the mentality that you had when you won here ten years ago, and do you try to use that again?

RORY McILROY: Sometimes I struggle to remember what I did yesterday. So I don’t — I think if I look that far back, I mean, it’s hard to rekindle those feelings and those memories. I can vaguely remember, you know, coming here off the back of winning The Open and the old WGC at Akron.

But you know, I think it’s all about confidence and momentum, and I have a lot of confidence and quite a bit of momentum coming into this week. So as I said at the start, it’s just about trying to keep that going.

But as you say, like trying to play with freedom, I think this is a golf course that allows you to play with freedom because it’s a big golf course. The corridors are wide, not too dissimilar to last week at Quail Hollow, so you can open your shoulders up off the tee and try to take your chances from there.

Q. Can I ask you about Jimmy’s board resignation, what you thought about that and what the implications might be in your mind?

RORY McILROY: Yeah, honestly I think it’s a huge loss for the PGA TOUR, if they are trying to get this deal done with the PIF and trying to unify the game.

Jimmy was basically “the” relationship, the sort of conduit between the PGA TOUR and PIF. It’s been really unfortunate that he has not been involved for the last few months, and I think part of the reason that everything is stalling at the minute is because of that.

So it is, it’s really, really disappointing, and you know, I think the TOUR is in a worse place because of it. We’ll see. We’ll see where it goes from here and we’ll see what happens.

But you know, I would say my confidence level on something getting done before last week was, you know, as low as it had been and then with this news of Jimmy resigning and knowing the relationship he has with the other side, and how much warmth there is from the other side, it’s concerning.

Q. So Shane Lowry mentioned that you told him that what you had off the tee, the driver at Zurich was the best you’ve ever driven the ball and you also said you like to play your way into form. Why is it that you are able to play your way into form?

RORY McILROY: So from a driving perspective, yeah, I think it’s — honestly it’s probably the best driver I’ve had in the last few years.

I’ve really gotten comfortable with the driver, and I think some of the technical things in my swing are just a little bit better, and I’m — the good drives are still very good but the bad drives aren’t as bad so the misses aren’t as wild.

And then — sorry, what was the second part of the question?

Q. Just you’ve always historically said you like to play your way into form. Why is that the case for you?

RORY McILROY: Play into form. For me, it’s not — I can — I can stand all day on a driving range and hit balls and not really learn anything. Because I think so many of us out here have got such great hands and have hit so many golf balls in our lifetime that we are just going to be able to figure it out some way. So you know, change a little feeling here or there. So to me, I learn the most about my game just by playing. I’ve played a lot this year. I’ve sort of figured out where my weaknesses are, what my tendencies are, how I can manage my game better, and yeah, I just — after the win in New Orleans, I didn’t pick up a club for six days. I hit balls for a couple of hours at The Grove on Sunday before going to Quail Hollow and I go and produce a performance like that.

I think you need to know yourself, and sometimes it’s about grinding on the range and working on technical stuff, but at other times, it’s just about getting on the golf course, playing with a card in your hand and understanding, you know, how you’re playing a game.

I think that the one thing about golf, compared to any other sport is we don’t practice on the field that we play on. So it would seem counterintuitive to spend all your time on the practice range instead of on the golf course. I’ve just tried to spend as much time on the golf course as I can.

Q. It’s been quite a few years for you. How are your energy levels, and just on a personal level, how are you doing?

RORY McILROY: I’m ready to play this week.

Q. Given the success of Europeans in other major championships, can you put your finger on why they have had relatively little success in this championship?

RORY McILROY: I mean, I think if you think of quintessential American golf, I think golf courses that we go to for the PGA Championship are usually somewhat like these.

I would say Kiawah was a little bit different, or maybe even somewhere like Southern Hills a couple years ago. But yeah, I don’t — I mean, I don’t know if I can put my finger on it. You know, it’s the same thing. I think G-Mac was the first — I don’t know if he was the first European or the first British player to win the U.S. Open since Jacklin in 1970. These things are cyclical. I don’t know if I can put my finger on it but just, you know, it’s a big golf course, thick rough, soft-ish greens. That seems to be more of an American style of play.

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PGA Championship 2024: Top Contenders and Potential Surprises

As the PGA Championship 2024 approaches, the golfing world is focused on Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. This prestigious event, one of golf’s four major championships, will challenge players with its Jack Nicklaus-designed course, known for its length and strategic demands. Who will lift the Wanamaker Trophy this year? With a field filled with world-class golfers, including top favorites Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, and Brooks Koepka, an exciting tournament is guaranteed. Here’s a look at the leading contenders and their chances.

Top Favorites for the PGA Championship 2024: Scheffler, McIlroy, and Koepka

Scottie Scheffler

Scottie Scheffler enters the PGA Championship 2024 as a clear favorite. Currently ranked number one in the world, Scheffler has already secured four tournament victories this season, including the Masters Tournament 2024. With four wins and a runner-up finish in his last five starts, over $18 million in prize money, and nine top-10 finishes from ten events, he is in exceptional form. Returning from a brief break for the birth of his first child, Scheffler is poised to claim his third major title.

Rory McIlroy

Rory McIlroy is another top contender this year. The Northern Irishman recently won the Zurich Classic alongside Shane Lowry and the Wells Fargo Championship. A previous winner at Valhalla a decade ago and currently second in the world rankings, McIlroy brings confidence to Louisville. With his impressive driving distance and strong long game, McIlroy has a great chance to capture the title.

Brooks Koepka

Reigning PGA Champion Brooks Koepka is also a formidable candidate. Koepka has already claimed a victory on the LIV Golf Tour this year and has a proven track record in major championships. With five major wins, including three PGA Championship titles, Koepka is known for his prowess in big tournaments and poses a significant threat on the challenging Valhalla course.

View all live scores for the PGA Championship 2024

Potential Surprises: Ludvig Åberg and Xander Schauffele

Ludvig Åberg

In his first professional season, Ludvig Åberg has established himself as one of the best players, highlighted by a second-place finish at Pebble Beach and an impressive debut in major tournaments. Over his last four events, the young Swede has gained over 15.5 strokes with his approach shots and is among the top off-the-tee players. Despite limited major experience and a recent knee injury, Åberg has the potential to surprise at the PGA Championship.

Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele has consistently performed well over recent years and is currently ranked third in the world. Although he has faced challenges in securing tournament victories, Schauffele’s strength in long games and on the greens could finally lead him to his first major title in Valhalla.

Other Contenders: Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, and Sepp Straka

Aside from the top favorites, other players like Max Homa, Collin Morikawa, and Sepp Straka are also worth watching.

Max Homa

Max Homa has steadily improved over the past few years, recently showcasing a strong performance at the Masters. The American has thrived on long, demanding courses, having won three of his six PGA Tour titles on such layouts, making him well-suited for the conditions in Louisville.

Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa has regained his form since adjusting his putting style. The switch to a mallet putter has yielded significant improvements, making him a serious contender in Valhalla. Morikawa’s accuracy off the tee and putting skills make him a formidable competitor.

Sepp Straka

Sepp Straka may not be the longest off the tee, but his accuracy could be advantageous on Valhalla’s demanding layout. Straka has shown consistent performance this season and could spring a surprise. With solid results in recent major tournaments, including a runner-up finish at the British Open 2023, Straka has the potential to reach the top ranks.

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PGA Championship 2024: Tiger Woods on His Possible Ryder Cup Captaincy “We’re Still Talking”

Before the start of the 2024 PGA Championship Tiger Woods talks about his expectations and recent experiences at the Masters in April. The “GOAT” also states, that the Ryder Cup captaincy is still under discussion.

PGA Championship 2024: Tiger Woods “I wish my game was a little bit sharper”

THE MODERATOR:  You were part of the one of the most memorable finishes in this championship’s history back in 2000. When you look back at that PGA, what do you remember most?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I just remember the pressure that I felt, the chance, an opportunity to do something that Ben Hogan did in 1953. The summer was a whirlwind. I was playing well, then coming into this event, being able to play in Jack’s — play with Jack in his last PGA Championship, and also just the timeline. Jack played with Gene Sarazen in his last PGA, and I was playing with Jack in his last PGA, so just the connection with all that.

Obviously making a putt on 18 and getting into the playoff and making a nice putt on the 16th hole, running after it. A lot of great memories from that week. To be able to go head-to-head with Bob May, who was arguably probably one of the best junior golfers that Southern Cal ever produced. It was a fun week and a fun — unbelievable moment, really.

Q. Expanding on that a little bit. When you look at this great collection of victories and majors you’ve won, where does that Sunday with Bob May fit in?

TIGER WOODS: Well, I think that the duel between us both, I think if I remember this correctly, Bob shot three straight 66s, and our back nine, we both shot 31 on the back nine. With leading a championship and both of us playing as well as we did, with all of that pressure and we kept feeding off of one another. He would make a putt, I would make a putt, I would make a putt, he would make a putt. It was a fun back nine.

That was the first year they went to the three-hole playoff, and when we got in at the scoring table, I remember that we were informed it was a three-hole playoff and Bob was completely shocked by that because I don’t think that it really got out that much that potentially it could be the way it plays out, and going back to 16, as I said, I made a nice putt there, ran after it. He made an unbelievable chip from the right rough and almost holed it. Again, we never really missed shots on that back nine and then in the three-hole playoff. For us to shoot those low of scores, it was special.

Q. Since the last time that you were here in 2014 do you feel like the course has changed a great deal or is it pretty much the same place?

TIGER WOODS: It’s gotten bigger. Gotten a little bit longer. I think they extended six tees since we played in 2014. Opened up some of the areas so there’s more flow, less trees. Definitely different than when we played in 2000. But it’s still the same framework that we played in 2000. So, the same corridors, but it’s just gotten a little bit bigger, a little bit longer, just like all golf courses or all championships that we go to now. I’m looking forward to one day they say we shortened this hole up, because it seems like every time we come back and play it’s always getting longer.

Q. State of your game, state of your body and state of your ability to play what’s a pretty hilly golf course?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, my body’s okay. It is what it is. I wish my game was a little bit sharper. Again, I don’t have a lot of competitive reps, so I am having to rely on my practice sessions and getting stuff done either at home or here on-site.

But at the end of the day, I need to be ready mentally and physically come Thursday, and these days of practicing, eating on the golf course, that’s one of the reasons I came up here on Sunday was to knock off some of the work that I have to do in charting greens, get all that stuff done early, so I can focus on literally playing and plotting my way around.

Q. We just had Max in here earlier this morning and he was talking about the two rounds he played with you at Augusta and was raving about what you still do on the golf course and the shots you’re still able to hit. Curious, how much of a tease is it for you when you know you still have it in there even at this age and how do you kind of deal with that as you go?

TIGER WOODS: Yeah, I can still hit shots. It’s getting around is more of the difficulty that I face day-to-day and the recovery of pushing myself either in practice or in competition days. You saw it at Augusta. I was there after two days and didn’t do very well on the weekend.

Q. As a dad who is a golf professional, what advice would you have for Scottie Scheffler?

TIGER WOODS: Get some sleep. (Smiling.) I mean, he’s got obviously he and Meredith, fantastic, having their first, and those are — as we all of us who have had children, those are some tough years and ahead of them.

As I said, try and get some rest as much as you possibly can. He’s the No. 1 player in the world, and having a great, stable family life at home is important to having a great life out here on TOUR.

Q. The crowds you still see for practice rounds or even just the people who come out to watch you now at 48, do you feel differently when you see that now as opposed to even maybe 10 years ago or five years ago?

TIGER WOODS: I think that I appreciate it more now, just the fact that I don’t come out here very often. I don’t play much, and I’m at home where it’s quiet and it’s so different to coming out to practice rounds when there’s thousands of people out there like it was at Augusta.

A bunch of people came out today. Unfortunately the weather didn’t really cooperate. I’m sure there will be a lot more tomorrow now that it’s cleared out. But appreciating the warmth and the support of the fans is something that I probably 10 years ago certainly didn’t appreciate that then as much as I do now.

Q. Rory said last week in Charlotte that you and him see the future of golf a little bit differently. What’s your position, what do you see as the future?

TIGER WOODS: Well I think that we see the — it’s good to see it differently, but collectively as a whole we want to see whatever’s best for all the players, the fans, and the state of golf. How we get there, that’s to be determined, but the fact that we’re in this together and in this fight together to make golf better is what it’s all about.

Q. Justin mentioned earlier when he was in here that one of his core memories here is watching you when he was a kid win in 2000 here. What’s your sense for what as close as you are to him what this means for him to have this championship in his hometown?

TIGER WOODS: Well I think that, I don’t know if JT was in diapers still or not, but I think that having a major come to your hometown where you grew up and it’s special for him, it’s special for Mike and Jenny and everyone who’s been involved in his life.

This is his hometown. The fact that he’s able to play a major championship where he grew up is special. Unfortunately I can’t say that I ever have, just because I missed the U.S. Open at LA Country Club. It would have been nice to play in my hometown. But to have JT come here and — he’s going to get some appreciation from the fans and the ovations are going to be loud for him, as they should be.

Q. You said at the Masters that you were going to talk to Seth after that week about maybe captaining next year’s Ryder Cup team. Did that meeting take place, and if so, is there any update?

TIGER WOODS: We’re still talking. There’s nothing that has been confirmed yet. We’re still working on what that might look like. Also whether or not I have the time to do it. I’m dedicating my so much time to what we’re doing with the PGA TOUR, I don’t want to not fulfill the role of the captaincy if I can’t do it. What that all entails and representing Team USA and the commitments to the PGA of America, the players, and the fans and as I said, all of Team USA. I need to feel that I can give the amount of time that it deserves.

Q. Earlier you mentioned the state of golf and fans. Wondering from your advantage point where you think that relationship stands now and why?

TIGER WOODS: I think the fans are probably as tired as we are of the talk of not being about the game of golf and about not being about the players. It’s about what LIV is doing, what we’re doing, players coming back, players leaving, the fans just want to see us play together. How do we get there is to be determined.

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PGA Championship 2024: The Major Returns to Valhalla

The PGA Championship 2024 is coming up and this year it will take place at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky. The golf club, nestled in the beauty of Kentucky, is no stranger to hosting major golf events, and this will be the fourth time the PGA Championship has been held here. Past majors at Valhalla have seen golf legends such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy claim victory.

PGA Championship 2024: The rich history of the Major in Valhalla

As the dust of the track and the cheers of the fans started to settle at the 150th Kentucky Derby in Churchill Downs, the agitation at nearby Valhalla Golf Club reignited with the preparations for the 106th PGA Championship. And the “most exciting two minutes in sports” gave way to “once in a decade golf celebration in Kentucky.” According to Churchill Downs, Mystik Dan’s win marked the first three-horse photo finish since 1947 and the first race decided by a nose margin since 1996. Like an echo of the Kentucky Derby, the three PGA Championships contested at Valhalla in the last three decades concluded with a photo finish or a nose margin–a playoff or one stroke difference in golf lingo.

Pictures of the Kentucky Derby. (Photo: PGA of America)

“I had a heartache in 96 when Mark Brooks beat me in a playoff,” said local golf star Kenny Perry about his defeat at the first PGA Championship in Kentucky. Four years later, Tiger Woods prevailed in a playoff against Bob May to win his fifth and third consecutive major at Valhalla. “Tiger was incredible,” remembers two-time Masters winner José María Olázabal, who shot a 9-under-par 63 course record on the third day and finished tied fourth. “I have great memories of that amazing round and Valhalla, a solid golf course with tough rough,” said the Spaniard. “But I specially remember the Ryder Cup there in 2008, when the Americans played really well.”

Perry was part of that American winning team captained by Paul Azinger.  “My dad, at 86 years old, came off the green in his bib overalls and gave me a hug. This is where I love to go, and to me, this is the pinnacle of golf in Kentucky,” added Perry about the 2008 Ryder Cup and Valhalla Golf Club. “We were fortunate to have epic and historic finishes,” said Jimmy Kirchdorfer, General Chairman of the 2024 PGA Championship. “A lot of people from Kentucky would say the Ryder Cup, when the US was struggling to win for a while, was the best sporting event they have ever been to.”

Jimmy Kirchdorfer and Justin Thomas. (Photo: PGA of America)

After the memorable victory of Rory McIlroy by one-stroke in the 2014 PGA Championship in the darkness, Kirchdorfer, along with the new co-owners of Valhalla Golf Club and its membership have been instrumental in bringing the PGA Championship back to Kentucky one decade later. “The tremendous response from the Louisville and Kentucky community has been essential to make this event a record-breaking championship,” said 2024 PGA Championship Director, Ryan Ogle, as he supports his assessment with staggering numbers.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the Wanamaker Trophy during the Award Ceremony for the 96th PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club, on August 10, 2014 in Louisville, KY. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

Over 200,000 spectators are expected during the week, breaking the record ticket sales set in 2018. Valhalla will accommodate 700,000 square feet of temporary flooring, over 285 tent structures, and 600 TVs will be spread across the property. On The Rocks, the Elijah Craig Bourbon Speakeasy by the 14th hole of Valhalla Golf Club will be one of the massive hospitality structures showcasing the official bourbon cocktail of the 2024 PGA Championship, the Elijah Craig Mulligan. “In terms of size, it will be more than double compared with 2014,” added Ogle, also highlighting the over 500 million households around the world with access to over 250 hours of live coverage.

The Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. (Photo: PGA of America)

“I am very excited about the PGA Championship in Kentucky. When the time comes, it will be a very special week,” said two-time PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, who will be playing a major in Valhalla for the first time. “I have been to Valhalla a handful of times. It is obviously well known and the most famous course in Kentucky, a special place,” added Thomas, who grew up playing golf at Harmony Landing Country Club, in Goshen, Kentucky, where his father Mike is still a pro.

Thomas will be the only Kentuckian at the traditional Champions Dinner, hosted by the 2023 winner Brooks Koepka at the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs. “Whatever my mom is cooking at home would be my recommendation for food in Kentucky,” noted Thomas as a potential culinary advice to Koepka, who finished T-15 in Valhalla in 2014. That year, Michael Block, the PGA of America Golf Professional who became the people’s hero in 2023 when he finished T-15 at Oak Hill, made his debut in the PGA Championship in Valhalla after winning the PGA Professional Championship.

The beautiful Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky. (Photo: PGA of America)

“Kentucky has been great. We have been staying downtown Louisville all week and everyone has been absolutely fantastic. It was a great experience,” said after missing the cut in 2014 Block, part of the Corebridge Financial Team of 21 PGA of America Professionals competing along the best in the world in the 2024 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club.

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PGA Championship 2024: The Valhalla Golf Club

The PGA Championship 2024 will take place at Valhalla Golf Club between May 16 and 19. The last time the major was held on this course, Rory McIlroy won on a dramatic final day in 2014. Ten years after McIlroy’s last major victory, a lot has changed on the golf course. A look at the venue for the second major of the year.

PGA Championship 2024: The Return to Valhalla

Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, is a private golf club designed by Jack Nicklaus and opened in 1986. This year, as part of the PGA Championship 2024, the major will be held for the fourth time in the history of the golf club – most recently in 2014. Since then, the club has switched from bentgrass on the fairways and tees to a Zoysia variety This allows the grass to be cut shorter and the ball to roll better. Some tees have also been lengthened.

The first hole of the course is a par 4, stretches over almost 443 meters (484 yards) and has been extended by 35 meters (38 yards). Due to the bend to the left, players should be careful not to hit too close to the left side of the fairway. Since 2014, the second hole has also been a par 4 with a length of 457 meters (500 yards). It continues with a 190-meter (208-yard) par 3 that winds between the tee and the green and then curves around the right side of the green. The green is protected by a large bunker on the right and a smaller bunker on the left and behind the green. On the fourth hole, another par 4 with a length of 340 meters (372 yards) awaits, which is protected by a deep bunker on the left and a small bunker on the right. Two more par 4s await on the fifth and sixth holes, which stretch to 423 meters (463 yards) and 453 meters (495 yards). While hole five, which bends slightly to the right, is one of the most difficult holes on the course, the sixth hole offers a special highlight with Floyd’s Fork running through it. It continues with the par 5 of the seventh hole: at a length of 546 meters (597 yards), players have the option of playing to the left or right thanks to a split fairway. The shorter route is to the left, the safer one to the right. At 174 meters (190 yards), the eighth hole is the shortest hole on the course. It is guarded by a deep bunker in front of the green and a slippery catchment area behind it. The first nine holes end with a 379-meter (415-yard) par 4. The difficulty of this hole lies in the uphill approach to the clubhouse. One of the largest and deepest bunkers on the course is located directly to the right of the green.

With a length of 539 meters (590 yards), the second longest hole on the course opens the back nine as a par 4. Both the tenth hole and the 193-meter (211-yard) par 3 eleventh hole are largely unchanged. At 452 meters (494 yards), however, the twelfth hole has been lengthened by 25 meters (27 yards) compared to 2014. The green has one of the deepest bunkers on the course on the right and dense Kentucky bluegrass on the left. This is followed by the 321-meter (351-yard) par 4 13th hole, Valhalla’s signature hole and the shortest par 4 on the course. The tee shot has been set about 9 feet (2.7 meters) lower to allow for good visibility. The green is built almost 6 meters (20 ft) high on large boulders and surrounded by water. At a length of 232 meters (254 yards), the 14th hole is the longest par 3 on the course, which has been lengthened by around 34 meters (37 yards) since 2014. The three par 4s on holes 15 (398 meters/435 yards), 16 (465 meters/ 508 yards) and 17 (432 meters/ 472 yards) are largely unchanged. Finally, a par 5 with a length of 521 meters (570 yards) awaits on the 18th. The hole has been lengthened by 26 meters (28 yards) since 2014. A large bunker protects the left side of the fairway and the water on the right.

Video of Valhalla Golf Club at the PGA Championship 2024

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PGA Championship 2024: Favorites, TV Times and Valhalla – An Overview

The PGA Championship 2024 is just around the corner. Between May 16 and 19, the best golfers in the world will compete at the legendary Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky. At the second major of the year, players will compete for the coveted Wanamaker Trophy and prize money of $17.5 million with the champion winning $3.15 million (As of 2023). A look at the tournament’s favorites and headliners, the famous course and streaming offers.

PGA Championship 2024: Defending Champion Koepka and other Favorites

At the PGA Championship 2024, Brooks Koepka will be the defending champion and one of the big favorites in Valhalla. The 34-year-old LIV golfer has already won the major three times and successfully defended his title in 2019. Koepka is already an outstanding major golfer and will certainly be one of the top players this year.

There is still a question mark over the participation of the second big favorite in the tournament. Scottie Scheffler is expecting his first baby in the next few days and has therefore withdrawn his participation for the time being. However, the first rumors are already emerging that the child has already been born and that participation in the PGA Championship 2024 is back on the cards. The 27-year-old finished second behind Koepka last year and is currently in outstanding form. This year, Scheffler has already won the Arnold Palmer Invitational, defended his title at THE PLAYERS Championship and triumphed at The Masters 2024, followed by victory at the RBC Heritage just one week later. Should the world number one take part in the tournament, he will certainly be a big favorite for the Wanamaker Trophy.

The third player to be mentioned is certainly Rory McIlroy. Although it has been ten years since the 35-year-old’s last major victory, the two-time PGA Championship winner is always a force to be reckoned with. Fittingly, McIlroy’s last victory at a major was at the 2014 PGA Championship, which was also held in Valhalla at the time. Possibly a good sign for the world number two. Other favorites are sure to be in-form players Wyndham Clark, Xander Schauffele, Ludvig Aberg and Co.

Fans can also look forward to Justin Thomas, the winner of 2017 and 2022, and Phil Mickelson, who celebrated his second title in 2021 after 2005. Four-time champion Tiger Woods, who is playing his first tournament since The Masters 2024, is also sure to be a special highlight.

How to watch the PGA Championship 2024: US & UK

In the USA, the PGA Championship 2024 will mainly be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN+. CBS will also broadcast the tournament on Saturday and Sunday. These channels will provide full coverage.

DayTV channel and time
Thursday, May 16ESPN+ 7:00AM-12:00PM
ESPN 12:00PM-8:00PM
Friday, May 17ESPN+ 7:00AM-1:00PM
ESPN 1:00PM-8:00PM
Saturday, May 18ESPN+ 8:00AM-10:00AM
ESPN 10:00AM-1:00PM
CBS 1:00PM-7:00PM
Sunday, May 19ESPN+ 8:00AM-10:00AM
ESPN 10:00AM-1:00PM
CBS 1:00PM-7:00PM
The TV times in the US.

In the UK, Sky is the rights holder for the broadcast of the tournament and offers a broadcast of the entire event.

DayTV channel and time
Thursday, May 16Sky Sports Main Event from 13:00
Sky Sports Golf from 13:00
Sky Sports Main Event from 22:30
Friday, May 17Sky Sports Golf from 13:00
Sky Sports Main Event from 17:00
Sky Sports Main Event from 22:30
Saturday, May 18Sky Sports Golf from 14:00
Sunday, May 19Sky Sports Golf from 14:00
Sky Sports Main Event from 19:30
The TV times in the UK.

There is also the official PGA Championship app, which offers further exclusive content for visitors on site and viewers at home.

PGA Championship 2024: Return to the Legendary Valhalla Golf Club

Ten years after Rory McIlroy’s legendary victory at the Major, the PGA Championship 2024 will once again take place in Valhalla. The golf club, nestled in the beauty of Kentucky, is no stranger to hosting major golf events, and this will be the fourth time the PGA Championship has been held here. Past majors at Valhalla have seen golf legends such as Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy claim victory.

The course, designed by Jack Nicklaus, stretches over a length of 7609 yards and is played as a par 71. At 597 yards, the seventh hole is the longest on the course. The shortest hole on the course is hole 3 at just 208 yards.

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Kentucky and Old Country Traditions Converge in Valhalla

Rory McIlroy’s victory in darkness at the 2014 PGA Championship in Valhalla Golf Club, resisting the rallies of local favorites Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler in a rain-delayed final round, was the Northern Irishman’s last win in a major. However, it was not the last time nor the first time someone from the Old Country left an imprint in Valhalla and Kentucky.

LOUISVILLE, KY – AUGUST 10: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the Wanamaker Trophy during the Award Ceremony for the 96th PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club, on August 10, 2014 in Louisville, KY. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)

Limestone: Kentucky’s Heritage

“We have exposed limestone throughout the golf course, and we are pretty much in the heart of limestone,” said Jimmy Kirchdorfer, General Chairman of Valhalla Golf Club. “That is the reason the early settlers decided to raise horses and have the whisky industry here. Limestone is the key to our Kentucky heritage. ”Limestone is the foundation of Valhalla and most Kentucky traditions, from bluegrass (both the plant and the music), to horses and bourbon. “It imbues the water with important minerals that are consumed by the yeast during the fermentation process. Then it filters the water and removes iron, which will interact with the components in the oak barrel and discolor the bourbon,” explained Dubliner Conor O’Driscoll, the seventh Master Distiller in Heaven Hill Distillery. “If you look at our portfolio, Henry McKenna, was an Irishman, Evan Williams was a Welshman. It was the Irish and the Scots who brought whiskey to America. Of course, the Irish invented it… or so they affirm,” said for the craic (jokingly in Irish or Scottish) O’Driscoll, the druid also behind the blending of Elijah Craig, a name associated with the invention of bourbon.

Fine Whiskey from Kentucky (Photo by Visit Kentucky)

The Ryder Cup at Valhalla

Coinciding with the anniversary of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, O’Driscoll met his wife around 25 years ago at the Kentucky Derby, another melting pot of international influences in the Bluegrass State, including some winningest riders from Mexico and Puerto Rico. “I went to the Kentucky Derby and that’s when it all kind of came together, the event was very international,” said Englishman Josh Webber, part of the groundcrew during the 2008 Ryder Cup and the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club. “The Derby was a fantastic experience. I went to the horse race and never saw a horse. We were in the infield partying,” added Irishman Paul O’Donoghue.

The famous Kentuck Derby (Photo by Visit Kentucky)

Webber and O’Donoghue were the only Europeans under Superintendent Mark Wilson’s orders during the memorable Ryder Cup at Valhalla. “When I was mowing greens, I had the European flag wrapped around my shoulders and I wore a crown”, remembered Webber. “We always had the European flag flying and Mark went and bought 200 American flags for the rest of the team,” O’Donohue recalled.

Webber and O’Donoghue at the Ryder Cup 2008 (Photo by PGA of America)

Both then young men from the Old Country in Kentucky –now superintendents in Southern England and The Netherlands—treasure the memories of their time in Valhalla and the “massive similarities between the soil in the Islands and Kentucky,” even the whiskey, the grass, and the music. “Except for one or two places, Ireland is mainly limestone, which gives you the green”, explained O’Donohue. “The only reason we call it bluegrass in Kentucky is because when it is hot it turns blue”, added the Irish superintendent about the origin of the name of the grass and the Bluegrass genre, derived from traditional Scottish, Irish, and English music. Bluegrass songs about family, horses, bourbon, and even limestone played in the background during the time Webber and O’Donohue spent under the wing of Kentucky Golf Hall of Famer Mark Wilson in Valhalla Golf Club. “Being part of the building of Valhalla put the wind on my back and launched me downhill,” said Wilson, who started his career in the seventies along with the first class of formally educated superintendents in the country.

Mark Wilson at the Ryder Cup 2008 (Photo by PGA of America)

Epic finishes in Kentucky

“For 22 years I mowed the bent grass fairways of Valhalla with green mowers and cut the clippings. And every winter we had to extent the site and the venue,” said now-retired Wilson, privileged witness of one Ryder Cup and three PGA Championships in Valhalla. “We were fortunate to have epic and historic finishes. I remember all of them,” said Kirchdorfer. “Tiger beating Bob May in a playoff in 2000 was spectacular,” he remembers about Tiger Woods’ victory, the first time since 1953 (Ben Hogan) that a player had won three major championships in the same calendar year. “The 2008 Ryder Cup, when the US was struggling to win until the end and we had two players from Kentucky, Kenny Perry and JB Holmes, was very special. A lot of people from Kentucky would say it was the best sporting event they have ever been to,” said Kirchdorfer.

“Valhalla is fantastic. It always seems to provide a very exciting finish in these championships. I watched the 2000 PGA here when Tiger won against Bob May, and I was sitting at home watching the Ryder Cup, as well. It seems like it always provides a great finish,” said McIlroy after winning his fourth major in Valhalla at 25 years of age. A decade later, two weeks after the 150 th Kentucky Derby, and on the 25 th Anniversary of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Rory McIlory, from the Old Country, could break the spell and win his fifth major at the 106 th PGA Championship in Valhalla Golf Club. “I had a great time here and hopefully I am going to come back one day to Valhalla and try and win this thing again,” were some of his last words in 2014 before departing Kentucky with the Wannamaker Trophy.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits his tee shot on 18 during the Final Round of the 96th PGA Championship, at Valhalla Golf Club, on August 10, 2014 in Louisville, KY. (Photo by Montana Pritchard/The PGA of America)
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Brooks Koepka: “I definitely wouldn’t have won today if that didn’t happen”

Brooks Koepka wins his fifth major title at the 2023 PGA Championship. He is the first member of the LIV Golf League to win one of the four most important titles in golf. But the long hitter has little interest in history. He prefers to enjoy the here and now. He made this clear at the press conference after the tournament victory. In addition, he openly reported how badly he was feeling during his injury break.

Brooks Koepka interviewed after the PGA Championship 2023

THE MODERATOR: Brooks, first off, congratulations, and how does it feel to have your third Wannamaker Trophy?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It feels damned good. Yeah, this one is definitely special. I think this one is probably the most meaningful of them all with everything that’s gone on, all the crazy stuff over the last few years.
But it feels good to be back and to get No. 5.

QUESTION. How much did that win in Orlando and now the runner-up position at the Masters set you up for this? Were those instrumental in the process, or is it when you’re back, you’re back?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t know, I’ve been playing good for a while. I felt like I knew I was back kind of in January, just needed a little bit of some reps I think at the beginning of the year to get things going and feel a bit more comfortable.

But when I’ve been playing good, I feel like I’ve been in contention every week probably since Orlando. So I’ve just been playing good and very pleased with the way I’m playing and just need to continue it.

Q. Only 19 guys have ever won five. You’re 20 now. It means a lot more history. I know you at times have said, “I don’t care about history, I just care about the next one.” But I wonder perspective-wise, it’s a pretty big deal that you’re one of the great golfers of all time in a lot of ways. How does it feel to know that rare air that you’re in?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it’s crazy. I try not to think of it right now. I mean, I do care about it. It’s just tough to really grasp the situation kind of while you’re still in it, I think.

I mean, probably when I’m retired and I can look back with Jena and my son and kind of reflect on all that stuff, that will be truly special, but right now I’m trying to collect as many of these things as I can. We’ll see how it goes.

Q. You seemed so calm and in control out there today, even smiling down No. 12 fairway. What was your mental game plan? What was your mindset going into today’s round?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Just keep doing what I’ve been doing the last three days. Just be aggressive and just go make a bunch of birdies, and I knew you’re going to make some mistakes today, but I made sure they were on the correct side of the hole.

Made some clutch putts coming down the back nine again, which I did yesterday, as well. So very, very pleased with the way the putter is rolling and just excited to win.

Q. What is it about that back nine? I think you were 7-under for the last three rounds, and all the birdies on the back side today, what is it about the nine that makes you feel so comfortable?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Well, the front nine is definitely a lot harder. That 6 tee shot — or 6, 7, 8, 9 are definitely tough holes. Maybe not so much 8, but 6, 7, 9 are definitely tough holes.

You know, even 4 is a tough driving hole because you can put it through the fairway, and if you do put it in the left side, it’s difficult. I definitely think there’s more chances on the back.

Q. Would you please share now what it was you learned after the Masters, and how did it contribute to the victory today?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I definitely wouldn’t have, I don’t think, won today if that didn’t happen; right?

Definitely take it and keep using it going forward for each event, each major, any time I’m in contention, but I’m not going to share. I can’t give away all the secrets.

Q. Have you heard from Greg Norman yet?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I called my wife, and that’s it. That’s the only person I’m really interested in talking to. I texted — my boys are here, and I’m just hanging with them and talking to my wife, and I can feel my phone buzzing even as we’re talking right now. Last I looked, I think there was 600 text messages. I’ll go through them.

Q. Without prying and trying to reveal, to follow up on that question, how big was it for you to use something that was — that some might consider a failure, to turn it into a positive? How important was that for you in this?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I’ve always learned more from the four times I finished second than, I guess, the five times I’ve won now.

I think failure is how you learn. You get better from it. You realize what mistakes you’ve made. Each time I’ve kind of made an adjustment. It’s more mentality than it is anything. It’s not really golf swing or anything like that. You’re going to play how you play, but mentally you can kind of figure things out, and I’m always trying to get better. Just trying to find that different little edge just to poke and try inside my head.

Really, I think the big key is just being open and honest with yourself, and if you can do that, you’ll be miles ahead of everybody else.

Q. Bryson was talking about how this not validates the LIV Tour but was an important moment for your tour. Can you appreciate that with your victory here?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I definitely think it helps LIV, but I’m more interested in my own self right now, to be honest with you.

Yeah, it’s a huge thing for LIV, but at the same time I’m out here competing as an individual at the PGA Championship. I’m just happy to take this home for the third time.

Q. That was actually pretty much my question. Obviously the first-ever and will always be the first-ever representative from the LIV Tour to win a major. Is there any pride with that? Obviously you’re playing individually, but is there any pride as a representative of the organization?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think so. Look at it, I think I was the first guy to win two LIV events. To win a major is always a big deal no matter where you’re playing.

All it does, I just think, I guess, validates it for myself. I guess maybe if anybody doubted it from Augusta or whatever, any doubts anybody on TV might have or whatever, I’m back, I’m here.

Q. I guess Blake is officially running as a baby name now? Is that official?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I’ve caught to call PFT guys. I’ll call Big Cat and PFT when I get a chance, maybe on the plane. It will be a little later, though.

Q. Wonder what your celebration plans might look like tonight?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Probably pretty chill tonight. Just want to get home. Get back home, chill. I would say tomorrow with the Panthers game, it will probably be a large tailgate. A large, long afternoon.

Q. And Claude Harmon was talking earlier this week that during that final round of the Masters, you might have been letting a couple shots affect you a little bit too much more than they normally would. Is that kind of what was going on in your head?

BROOKS KOEPKA: No, that wasn’t what was going on. It was something completely different. It was something I took to the first tee.

I think, I learned from it. I’m very pleased with what I took from it, and I’m pleased with the honesty I was able to dive into. My best friend, actually, my brother’s caddie, I think we stayed up probably most of the night just chatting about it, and he kind of ripped into me pretty good about it, so made sure.

He was texting me all last night about it and making sure that I wouldn’t fall in the same trap.

Q. 16 was obviously a pretty pivotal moment in today’s round. What was your perspective on what Viktor was going through? And you hit your shot maybe 10 seconds after he hit his. What was going through your mind in that moment?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I couldn’t see what was going on, but I had a pretty good idea. It was buried under the lip, which was unfortunate. Took a couple minutes to figure out the drop and just figure out what was going on.

I don’t know, I’m a pretty fast player. We had probably, what — probably took three minutes in total from the moment he, I guess, was preparing for the original shot in the bunker and the drop situation. We already knew the yardage and knew everything going into it, and the wind stayed pretty much the same. We talked about it for a good minute.

Q. When you hit it close, did you feel like, I’ve done it, this hole, this moment, I’ve made a huge momentum swing?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I thought so, for sure. Honestly it was a tougher put. It was so downhill, and it was kind of burnt out. I even told Rick before I hit it I was going to dive it and pick the high line. If it didn’t hit the hole, it was definitely going three or four feet by.

I’m just happy that one went in. I think it was a little momentum boost. Gave me a little ease going into 17, 18.

Q. I don’t know how much you were able to follow what was going on with Michael Block today, the hole-in-one, this whole weekend. Just to share this weekend with him, having him alongside the trophy ceremony, your thoughts on that?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, it’s been super cool. He is a great dude. He’s been fun. I didn’t really get to hang out with him until after the last round and just kind of chat with him.

But, yeah, I was walking up the par-5, 13, and we heard the roar. It sounded like a hole-in-one roar. We weren’t sure, maybe someone holed out on 14. It was kind of coming from the same area. I asked one of the camera guys, and they told me that it was Mike. I thought that was special. Me and Rick were laughing about it.

Yeah, drinks are on him, so run the tab up.

Q. And then you obviously start the major season second and first. How do you try and carry this momentum into what could be a pretty historic year perhaps?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Keep doing what I’m doing. It’s working so far. Back to having a chance pretty much every time I tee it up. So I’m very pleased with the way I’m playing. I like the way I’ve worked with everybody. It’s been a lot of fun.

Q. I wonder if moments like this are a good time to reflect on the injuries, all those years in Asia and Europe, how tough the journey is?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I don’t — it’s tough to kind of reflect in the moment. I think probably the best reflection comes like a day, a couple days later. Well, definitely not tomorrow. I won’t be sober.

Yeah, I’d probably give it a week on this one. This one will probably taste a little better, but I’m excited. It’s so cool to look back at where I’ve come, traveling. I remember back to The Challenge Tour days, going to Kenya, Kazakhstan, and all those cool places and getting to see the world.

Yeah, to be out here now and win five major championships is pretty incredible.

Q. Can you comment a little bit about Ricky Elliot and how he’s helped you get back to this place?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, Rick, it’s kind of funny because Rick, I forced him to come out when Dr. ElAttrache was doing surgery. No one wanted to come with me. My brother was playing The Honda Classic. My parents were staying there. Jena just had surgery on her ankle, so she couldn’t fly out there. So I made Rick come, and Rick spent probably 2, 2 1/2 weeks with me out in L.A.

Yeah, I feel bad for him that he was stuck with me there for awhile. He was tired of me; I was tired of him. I don’t know if he gets enough credit for being as good of a caddie as he is. Caddying is a lot about reading the people, reading your player, knowing what they are going to do before they even do it and kind of sense the moment of what to say, what not to say.

Honestly, I thought he’s one of the best for a long time, and I don’t think he gets enough credit, maybe even from me.

Q. Obviously we got a peek of you at bottom because of the show, and I just kind of wondered, at those times how much were you doubting, questioning, whatever, yourself physically versus yourself, like can I go do that again, like, me, the player?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It’s tough. It’s very hard to explain. It’s just, like, you can’t fathom how difficult it is just to get going. I mean, it was a lot worse than I let on to you guys, let on to everybody.

Like I said, I think maybe only five, six people really know the extent of it, and it’s just — it was hard. Cold weather, it was achy. The swelling didn’t go down until maybe a couple months ago.

I mean, so that’s almost, what, two years? It’s been a long road. But look, that’s who I am. I’m open and honest. I know I seem like this big, bad, tough guy on the golf course that doesn’t smile, doesn’t do anything, but if you catch me off the golf course, I’ll let you know what’s going on.

Like, I’m happy they got that side; right? That’s truly me, and some people might hate it, some people might dog it, but at the end of the day, it’s just me.

Q. Just to be clear, did you ever consider retirement?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t know if I considered retiring, but I knew I wasn’t — if I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play, then I was definitely going to give it up. I mean, the thought definitely kind of crossed my mind.

Q. For those of us who have never felt the pressure of a major championship, what does it do to your body specifically? When you feel nervous, does your heart race? Do your hands do anything? Do you have to slow down, or is it not that different than just a normal round?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I don’t know. To me, it’s excitement; right? I’ve got to slow down, for me. I’ve got to start walking slower because my stride just wants to keep going. Want to be the first one to the ball and hit it and just play the quickest round of golf ever.

Yeah, I’ve got to slow down. I’ve got to take my time and really just kind of assess things, but it’s difficult to say. I don’t think my hands or my heart rate gets up. I don’t think about the next shot. I always just think about what’s going on. Like, if you walk down 16, I’m not thinking, oh, I’ve got to do this on 17 or 18. I’m just thinking, whatever the next shot might be and then until I run out of shots.

Q. Is that something that you’ve learned from over time of how to take that one shot at a time, or is that something that’s just kind of come naturally to you?

BROOKS KOEPKA: A bit of both. I think I’ve definitely learned. I probably learned the most the last time I was here in 2013 when I played with Tiger on Sunday. That was interesting. I spent nine holes watching him. I’ve done that my entire life. Grew up watching the guy, and didn’t — took me until 10 — Ricky’s first week caddying for me, he told me to stop watching him.

But it just natural what you do; right? I grew up in the Tiger era. I loved watching the guy. It’s just naturally what I did for the first nine holes and then it got better.

Q. Is there a moment that sticks in your mind when you thought having that trophy again or another major wouldn’t happen?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Oh, for sure. Yeah, a couple years ago. Just lost. Didn’t know where any golf swing was; didn’t know physically if I was capable of getting back to where I was.

But, I mean, a lot’s transpired, working with Pete, working with Claude, working with Pierce on putting, and then A.C. has done a phenomenal job in the gym. Ara, Mike they are all behind the scenes and don’t get enough credit but they have definitely revived my career. A lot of credit to those guys.

I think Ara said it best a couple months ago, that if we couldn’t get the swelling out of my knee, everybody was fired. They did a great job and I wouldn’t are here without them.

Q. What’s the shot you’re going to remember most from this week?

BROOKS KOEPKA: That’s a good one.

I don’t know, I’ll have to get back to you on that one. Right now, I still have to think. I’m trying to think. Probably, you know what, probably that chip-in for par on 11, I think the first day.

Q. Why that one?

BROOKS KOEPKA: I mean, I could have made double. Saved me. Usually when you make double, you don’t win a major championship.

Q. It’s kind of impossible not to hear certain things that get yelled in a round. Ricky might throw a fan a little stare down and things like that. Does any of that get to you? Do you hear any of it?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Oh, I hear it all. I just don’t care. I mean, that’s sports, right. You’ve got to be mentally tough not to, I guess some lady was chanting some stuff and another guy was shouting out some stuff. But you’ve got to be mentally tough not to deal with it. It happens in every sport.

I’m pretty sure when Tom Brady was playing, I’m pretty sure when he walked into — when he was playing the Jets or the Dolphins, he wasn’t exactly cheered upon when he ran in the stadium.

Q. You seemed to get a little emotional as you were walking from the 18th green to the scoring tent. Was that relief? Was that suddenly realizing what you had accomplished? Just curious?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Yeah, I think it was definitely what I accomplished. Pardon my language, but it’s all the fucking shit I had to go through. No one knows. No one knows, I think, all the pain. There’s a lot of times where I just couldn’t even bend my knee.

Yeah, it felt good. It felt really good.

Q. What do you think about being a dad soon?

BROOKS KOEPKA: It’s going to be wild. Yeah, it’s crazy. I feel like these last, I don’t know, five, six months, have flown by. Our life’s even started to change already, and I can only imagine when he gets here.

But I’m super excited. I’ve kind of wanted to be a dad for the last few years. This will be an exciting time for our life, and I can’t wait for it.

Q. Would you want to see the PGA Championship coming back to Oak Hill and you playing in it one day?

BROOKS KOEPKA: Like I said, I love New York. It’s treated me pretty well. But three of the five have been in New York, so I’ll come back any time (smiling).

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Brooks, congrats again.
(Transcript by asap sports)

Highlights Tours

Michael Block: “I had this intuition that it was going to happen”

Michael Block was the secret star of the 2023 PGA Championship, not only finishing 15th in the tournament but also hitting a hole-in-one on the final day. For the club pro, the second major tournament of the season was also the ticket to several other events on the PGA Tour. And next year he will also be allowed to play in the PGA Championship. In the interview after the fourth round, Block spoke about his fantastic week.

Michael Block: The secret Star of the PGA Championship 2023

THE MODERATOR: Michael Block is joining us following the 105th PGA Championship. First of all, congrats on an incredible week. Has everything you accomplished the last few days begun to sink in yet?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Not quite yet. I just got a call from Colonial, and I’m in next week as the last sponsor’s exemption, which is really even more mind-boggling now. So I’m readjusting flights to head to Dallas and Fort Worth, so I’m looking forward to that, to say the least.

No, this week’s been absolutely a dream. I didn’t know it was going to happen, but I knew if I just played my darned game, right, that I could do this. I always knew it.

I had this intuition that it was going to happen — I always had this thing: It was going to happen with Tiger Woods, it really was. I always saw myself coming down the stretch with Tiger Woods. I was like, I’m going to do it, even if I’m 45 or whatever it is, I’m going to come down the stretch at an event with Tiger.

It just happened to be that I was in the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill, and I had Rory McIlroy in my group. I wasn’t coming down the stretch to win, but at the same time, Sunday at a major with the crowd here at Rochester was unreal.

Question: Just the emotions finally caught up to you after the CBS interview and you had to go into a tent and kind of take a breath. What did you think of as you took that breath?

MICHAEL BLOCK: I didn’t cry when I had my kids. I cried, for some reason. If you love golf, you know. I cry about golf, to be honest.

I have cried only a couple times in my life. When I won the National Championship in 2014 in Myrtle Beach. At The Dunes Club I cried. And after that, my wife hasn’t seen me cry until this week.

If it makes any sense, the one thing in the world that makes me cry is golf. If that puts into context as far as how much I love the game, you know now. It’s everything to me.

Obviously I love my family and everything else and my job and everything, but golf is my life. I live it, breathe it. I made sure of one thing in my life: That I was going to drive to a golf course every day, whether it was a caddy or an onsite service kid or an assistant pro or a head pro or general manager, I what was going to be as a golf course. I came to the golf course today at Oak Hill and played in the PGA Championship.

Question: What was it like, as CBS showed you the tape from your home club with all the people celebrating and cheering you on?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Yeah, it was the most people I’ve ever seen at O’Neill’s ever. It was crazy. It’s busy a lot because it’s a great spot and the food is great and the drinks are great. Armando serves a fantastic cocktail.

But to see how busy it was and to see they actually had what looked like a watch party to me, was pretty darned cool. I can’t wait to get back to them and celebrate with them.

But sad to say, not sad to say, is that I will miss them this week because I’m going to Colonial, so I’ll see them next week.

Question: We asked you yesterday how much fun you’re having, so I’ll ask the same question now. How much fun was this?

MICHAEL BLOCK: It wasn’t nearing as much fun today. I got some really bad lies starting an hole one. The lie I had on one was ridiculous, and I make a bogey. No putts dropped in. I was rolling it the same, but as everyone knows that’s a golfer, right, today they weren’t breaking and dropping in the hole. They were going right over the edges, and I kind of knew it was going to happen. In my heart, I’m going, dude, for three days I made a lot of putts; right?. I’m, like, just stick with it, you know it’s not going to last for four straight days, and so not to get too frustrated.

So I almost preemptively told myself, I’m not going to make everything today. Don’t get frustrated with it. And I did, because I kind of knew what was going to happen. I went through it. I was 2-over and made the hole-in-one out of nowhere. Got back to even par, and I was, like, you know what, that’s what you do. I hate being over par. That’s my deal. I hate being over par.

So I was over par by two. I made a hole-in-one, got back to even, and then I made a really bad bogey on 16 to go back to one, but then I made some crazy up-and-downs on 17 and 18, which I play as short par-5s to finish at 1-over, and to make a decent check.

Question: If at the start of the week someone were to have rattled off, say, Wednesday — if they were to rattle off all the things that have happened this week, what would you have told them?

MICHAEL BLOCK: So I was at the Pittsburgh Pub on Sunday night. Not one single person knew me. I’m going to go there in about an hour, and it’s going to be on. We’re going to have a crazy good time tonight, and I look forward to it.

My life’s changed, but my life’s only changed in the better. I’ve got my family. I’ve got my friends. I’ve got the people that really love me and care about me here. It’s an epic experience. I can’t thank the PGA and Oak Hill enough and you guys enough for being so awesome and enjoying the experience.

Question: With those people at the Pittsburgh Pub and the people on 18 chanting your name like that, your story has resonated with a lot of people this week. Why do you think that is?

MICHAEL BLOCK: I’m like the new John Daly, but I don’t have a mullet, and I’m not quite as big as him yet. I’m just a club professional; right? I work. I have fun. I have a couple boys that I love to play golf with. I have a great wife. I have great friends. I live the normal life. I love being at home. I love sitting in my backyard. My best friend in the world is my dog. I can’t wait to see him. I miss him so much it’s ridiculous, my little black lab.

But, yeah, it’s been a surreal experience, and I had this weird kind of sensation that life is going to be not quite the same moving forward, but only in a good way, which is cool.

Question: Just thinking about your crew back home, your assistant pros, the whole squad at the course, what do you think that — what do you hope that they take away from your performance this week and your success?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Well, I want to take all the assistant pros, not only at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club, but all the assistant pros and head pros and future pros that are even thinking about getting into the golf business to say, you know what, you have the opportunity to go play in your section championship and finish, whatever it is, top 5, top 10, whatever it might be, to go to the National Championship. And then there, you finish in the top 20, you’re going to come here, or wherever it might be that year, to play in the PGA Championship.

So the way I’ve always looked at it in my life is like, so you’re telling me this: I’m going to finish top 10 in the Southern California Championship, and then I go and finish top 20 in the National Championship, and I’m going to be at a PGA Championship, which is a major championship. The PGA of America gives you that opportunity. What an inspiration that is; right?

And I’ve lived with that mantra, same way with the U.S. Open. I’ve always said if you shoot 69 at a local qualifier, you’re in the sectionals, and then if you shoot 69, 69 in the sectionals, you’re probably in the U.S. Open. So three 69s, you’re playing The Open; right? That’s how I’ve lived. I’ve lived in those world terms where it makes reality easier.

You don’t have to go shoot 63, 63, 64, something like that, to go do what we’re doing. You just have to be real. You’ve got to practice, and you’ve got to commit your life to the game, and hope you have a supportive family, like I do, and a club like I do. And if you don’t, move on to the next club and find one that does.

Question: The up-and-down on 18, were you nervous over that putt, and did you know where you stood in terms of qualifying for next year’s PGA?

MICHAEL BLOCK: I had no idea. I made sure that I had no idea. I told my caddie, John, at the beginning of the day, I’m not going to look at leaderboards throughout the day, no matter what happens. Good, bad or indifferent, I’m not looking, because in the past, sometimes I get ahead of myself. I start booking rooms at hotels that I’ve never even qualified for, and it’s never worked out well. I no longer get ahead of myself.

I had no idea where I was. And if you put me at 120 yards out on 17, hitting my third shot, and if you put me on 18 hitting my third shot from that 40 yards, sidehill lie out of the rough to a tight pin on 18, and you’re telling me I’m going to get up-and-down on both of those to make next year’s PGA Championship, there’s no way in God’s green earth I would have done it.

So lucky enough, I didn’t look at the leaderboards. I was just grinding my butt off, and I did it.

Question: Can you walk us through what happened on 15?

MICHAEL BLOCK: The hole-in-one?

Question: What you were thinking?

MICHAEL BLOCK: The hole-in-one?

Question: Yeah.

MICHAEL BLOCK: Rory hits. He misses the green right. I’m just like, oh, yeah, you can’t go there; right? So I’m over my tee shot, and the crowd goes crazy. Like, the crowd went nuts and I had not even hit yet. So I had to step back. I’m, like, this is pretty cool; right? This huge reception, and I haven’t seen hit.

So I sit back for a second. I’m, like, this is cool, but I’ve got this nice flight at 7. I could hit a hard 8, but all day long when I tried to hit anything hard, I was pulling it. So I was, like, I’m going to flight a little 7 in there into the breeze from 150. It was playing about 167 in my head.

So I hit it, and it’s just right at it, but I can’t say it, just like now, and all of the sudden it disappears, whatever. I’m like, cool. I’m like, thanks, guys. Rory is walking down the pathway 20 yards away from me and turns around and starts walking back towards me with his arms open to give me a hug. And he goes, you made it.

I go, what? I’m like, seriously?

He’s like, yeah, you did. He had to tell me five times that I made it. So it was a pretty cool experience to have Rory be telling me that I made a hole-in-one in front of God knows how many people that were supporting me.

Question: How many hole-in-ones have you had?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Three before. Never in a tournament in my life. I’ve always talked about how I never had one in a tournament, and the situation under that, I mean, that was it. I don’t need to have another one. I’m good.

THE MODERATOR: Before we take a few more questions, we have something special for you.

(Presentation of 15 flag by Oak Hill Country Club.)

MICHAEL BLOCK: This will be going up in a great spot. I greatly appreciate the thought about it.

I blew the hole out. Rory was like, we need to recut that thing. I walked up there, and half the hole, the hole back was just blown out. So yeah, pretty cool. Great experience. I still just feel like I’m on a cloud nine right now.

Question: Have you bought any drinks yet?

MICHAEL BLOCK: No, I haven’t. They surprised me earlier. They are, like, Michael, so we’ve got some downtime. Just come in this little room. You’ve got some downtime. You can just hang out. I’m like, okay, but I’m going to go sign some autographs. They are like no, no, come on. I’m like, okay.

So I end up walking in there, and it’s a table, and we’ve got a couple bottles of Casamigos and a couple IPAs, which you might have heard. I had all my friends and my general manager right here, Mike Donovan, who allows me to do this.

We sat there and while we’re sitting there, they hand me the phone, and it was on a conference call, speakerphone, and it was Michael from the Colonial event, which is next week in Fort Worth, and he said that — he was offering the last exemption into the Colonial next week for me, which, as you know me, I got emotional again.

And I’m in Colonial next week, which is pretty darned cool, so I’ve got to change my plans for tomorrow’s flights.

Question: Awesome weekend. On that, I mean, with how much you love golf, it is apparent how much you love golf, how does it feel to have these doors opening, Colonial immediately, and then coming back to Valhalla next year for the PGA Championship? You’ve already said your life is changing, but you’re now going to get to do this more often because of today. Has that sunk in at all?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Yeah, and the cool part is I’m super comfortable. I just played with Justin Rose on a Saturday in a major and Rory McIlroy in a Sunday at a major. I’m not sure how it gets any bigger than that.

So when I go play Colonial next week, it’s not going to feel like a down, but it’s going to be like, no problem, right, compared to what I just did the last couple days.

So I’m comfortable. I’m happy. I’m kind of built for this, to tell you the truth, I mean, in a way. I’m just being me, which is the most important thing that happened a year ago with my wife and with Matt where they told me just to be me and not just to be a club pro when I come here and to be a tour pro, which I guess I proved this weekend with a 15th place in a major that — I mean, that makes me choke up even thinking. I didn’t think about it yet, but I got 15th place in a major championship.

Question: Talking about Colonial, what do you expect the reception to be from the PGA TOUR players?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Oh, they are all great. The PGA TOUR boys are great. I mean, inside the clubhouse here at Oak Hill, every single one of them that saw me was like, “Keep it up, do it.” Zach Johnson came to me, he literally sought me out on the putting green yesterday morning. Came up to me, goes, “Just keep being you,” which is cool. We are Iowa boys from back in the day and similar age, so to hear that from him and Min Woo and a couple other guys. Rory and Rosey were fantastic.

Everyone was super supportive. All the TOUR players have been amazing. I’m actually looking forward to seeing how the Fort Worth, Dallas fans are with me. We’ll see how it goes. But, hopefully, you know — and it’s going to be hard to live up to the Rochester folks, but we’ll see how it goes.

Question: A couple of things connected with that. Clearly you were saying you were ready for this moment. You had a vision of this moment. So what is your vision starting next week with Colonial, and what do you expect to do?

MICHAEL BLOCK: The way I’m playing and from what I’ve heard about Colonial, I’ve never played the golf course before, but I think it’s going to set up very well for me, from what I know. It’s tight, it’s fast, it’s hot. Great greens. That’s me. It’s bermuda. That’s what I play on in California.

So all in all, am I expecting I’ll make the cut? Absolutely. I want to go there, top 10, whatever it is. I want to get more phone calls. I want to get more exemptions. I want people to start calling me and saying, we want you in our event because it makes it better. That’s great to me.

Question: You seem very comfortable with the cameras and with the fame and all that. There’s an element here that maybe connects with your student, with the kids at your club and everything which is being a role model. So how do you see that?

MICHAEL BLOCK: That’s just me, to be honest. I mean, I love kids. I love dogs. When I see the kid out there with his hand out to give me five, I had a really big issue with passing him by or her by, I really do. If you would have watched me today, I had 80 hands out, but this little thing was down here, right, and I’m like, I’m giving that one five right there, you know, no matter what. Whether I just made double-bogey, bogey or an eagle, I’m going to go give that person a high five.

That’s how it is. I was born that way, and my parents raised me that way. I’m just having a good time, and I’m going to take that same vibe to Fort Worth next week and have a good time.

Question: You mentioned that you thought you had this in you. Was there any part of this week that surprised yourself?

MICHAEL BLOCK: The hole-in-one. Yeah, that was it. I honestly just played golf outside of that. Blocky golf, hit fairways, hit little baby cuts out there. Putted how I normally do. The greens were perfect here. So the hole looks huge to me.

You know, that’s the big part is I come here, the hole looks like it’s six inches wide. It really does. It’s cut so perfectly. The greens are so good. The hole looks huge.

So I feel like I had an advantage. I’m over a putt, and I’m going, that hole looks big. And then I know a lot of people that get over the putt, and you guys know as golfers, you get over a putt and you’re like, dude, is there even a hole there?

That’s how I felt this week, and hopefully I inspired a lot of people to practice and to work hard at it and to understand the fact that just because they are not on tour right now, they can’t come and live a dream like I did.

Question: You talk about only crying over golf moments in your life. Did that ever lead to any awkward conversations when maybe you didn’t cry over other things?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Oh, 100 percent, yeah. My wife was very disappointed in the fact that I never cried when my children were being born.

But she understands now how important the game of golf is to me, which is, this is it, you know. I live it, breathe it. Like I said, I’m going to go to the golf course no matter what, whether I’m working outside service cleaning clubs on the weekend or cleaning shoes or running the club. I don’t care what it is. I’m going to drive over that hill, and I’m going to go to the golf course in a polo and live my dream.

Question: You’ve said it a few times, and I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but what’s it like to be living every hacker’s dream?

MICHAEL BLOCK: Yeah, no, I’m — I’m as normal as it gets; right? It’s a thing for me where I’m not trying to be an inspiration.

I’m not trying to do anything, and that’s kind of the big deal is I’m not trying to be anybody outside of myself. Hopefully people gravitate toward it and appreciate it and be themselves and succeed in their goals as I have this week, as they kind of documented my big goal this week was to be the low club pro; right? And that maybe meant shooting 9-over after two days and beating other guys and then shooting 25-over on the weekend; right? I could have been happy with that, but I wasn’t.

I wanted to be low club pro but also changed my aspect and my thoughts about it, and just said, let’s finish as high as we can. I didn’t look at any leaderboards, and now that I know I’m 15th place and I made $288,000 or something like that, is insane, that I did that playing golf and I love the fact that I sit in my backyard by my fire pit with my kids and my dog, and I always tell them this.

I always say: Do you guys know that golf built this? Golf fed you tonight. Golf has the yard; golf supplied the home that I have in Orange County, California. Golf did this for you guys. I always tell this to my kids that golf did it, and golf just did a little bit more for me this week.

Question: I know you have a meeting at the Pittsburgh Pub, so just one more question. Why now? Why do you think all this has come together now at 46, and what might have it been like — why now?

MICHAEL BLOCK: I think I was the second best player at my high school. I played tennis. So I played varsity tennis all my high school years, and then finally my senior year they allowed me to play golf and tennis in spring sports, and so I played both.

Then I wasn’t recruited by anybody to play college golf. I won the St. Louis Amateur Championship my — when I was 19 or 20 or something like that, and all of a sudden the coach from St. Louis — it’s called University of Missouri St. Louis, came up to me and said: Hey, we’ll give you a scholarship, come play for us. I’m like, okay, cool. So I went and did that and played college golf.

And after that, I mean, I didn’t do anything. I opened up a golf course with these guys, with Matt and Jeff, I opened up a golf course with these guys in Orange County, California in 2004 and didn’t play golf for eight years. The only thing I played was the Tuesday morning Skins Game with my outside service kids, that was it. I didn’t have my Class A, I didn’t worry about getting my Class A at that point and I just made sure that we were worried about running golf tournaments and keeping the members happy and keeping Jeff and Matt happy and that’s what I did for eight straight years.

Someone at some point said: Hey, Blocky, you’re throwing money out your sunroof by not going out and getting your Class A and competing against the best PGA professionals in the world. I went out and did that in ten months. Got my Class A in ten months, which is not easy to do by the way and ever since then, it’s been a storybook deal, and especially now.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Michael, congrats again.
(Transcript by asap sports)