TULSA, Okla. — Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth are examples of the way temporarily the panorama can alternate.
Look again 365 days, and Johnson was once the No. 1 participant on the planet who were runner-up within the earlier two PGA Championships and a few of the favorites each time he performed.
Going into this PGA Championship, which begins Thursday at Southern Hills, he’s No. 12. It’s now not the tip of the sector, however it is his lowest rating in seven years, and the questions have modified. Instead of when he’ll upload any other main, it is about when he’ll win once more.
Johnson has long past 27 begins over 15 months since successful the Saudi International.
“The thing for me has just been driving,” Johnson mentioned. He concept again to the Masters, the place his motive force was once behaving so badly he switched to a 3-wood. That’s now not a foul choice for many gamers, simply now not Johnson.
“I’ve never done that in my life — 3-wood is the last club in my bag that I’d want to hit,” he mentioned. “I’ve always felt most comfortable with a driver.”
That could be a excellent membership for him at Southern Hills after its acclaimed recovery mission. Unlike the final time the PGA was once right here in 2007 and gamers have been hitting most commonly irons off the tee. Now that it is at 7,556 yards for a par 70, the motive force may just move some distance.
“Obviously, this is a really good place to drive it straight for me,” Johnson mentioned.
He arrived on Monday, taking the ones lengthy strides up the hill towards the clubhouse, when Johnson was once requested if it was once his first time in Oklahoma.
“Yep,” he said. “And after this week, it will be my … .” He finished the sentence with a smile. At age 38, and with no major on the horizon here for the next eight years, well, he’d like to make the most of his time in the Sooner State.
A year ago, Spieth was No. 28 in the world, a month away from ending a long victory drought but still far away from his game being back to the form that made him a major force in golf at age 21.
Now the 28-year-old from Texas is No. 8 and coming off a particularly good stretch that followed an irritating missed cut at the Masters. Spieth received in Hilton Head the next week after which completed one shot at the back of in Dallas final week.
The PGA Championship is all that is holding him from the profession Grand Slam, which is without doubt one of the key speaking issues this week. Spieth introduced up the lacking leg of the Grand Slam because the “elephant in the room.”
But for the state of golf, it’s starting to feel like a herd of pachyderms.
Where’s Phil Mickelson, the defending PGA champion? And what will he do next when he emerges from this self-imposed exile over his comments on the Saudi-funded golf series that seemingly offended both sides?
Tiger Woods still commands all the attention. The gallery was enormous for him playing nine holes on Monday and again on Wednesday in his final tuneup for his return to Southern Hills. Those around him felt it was a victory that he made it through 72 holes at the Masters in his first competitive tournament since his car crash.
“I’ve gotten stronger since then,” Woods mentioned. “It’s still going to be sore, and walking is a challenge. I can hit golf balls, but the challenge is walking. It’s going to be that way for the foreseeable future, for sure.”
Not to be lost sight of is the hand-wringing over the Saudi-funded collection Greg Norman is orchestrating, set to start out in 3 weeks outdoor London with nonetheless no concept who might be enjoying, with the PGA Tour denying releases required to play outdoor the rustic.
Rory McIlroy mentioned previous within the week, “It’s going to shape the future of professional golf one way or another, so I think we’re just going to have to see how it all shakes out.”
Spieth may just best smile when after a chain of questions in regards to the profession Grand Slam and his sport and Southern Hills, he was once requested about Mickelson and the Saudi league.
“Since everyone was lobbing me questions, you just went and threw two bombs,” he said with a wry smile. He didn’t looked bothered, and odds are he wasn’t.
Spieth has never expressed interest in going, he no longer is on the PGA Tour policy board and he’s happy to mind his own business.
“I’m excited to come here this week and just keep my head down, and none of those distractions weigh on me whatsoever,” he mentioned.
And then there may be Johnson, who does not appear to get distracted by means of a lot of the rest. He was once courted closely by means of the Saudi team in the beginning of the yr prior to stating he sought after to play in opposition to the most efficient at the PGA Tour. He additionally had no small topic of a marriage to Paulina Gretzky simply two week after the Masters.
Which was once the higher distraction?
“Neither,” he mentioned. “Paulina did an unbelievable job with the wedding. I really didn’t have to do much. I helped for about half an hour with the seating chart. That was about it. That was my whole contribution.”
On Thursday, it is all about main championship golfing. And even with the Masters best 5 weeks got rid of, it could not get right here quickly sufficient.