The Latest: Spieth thinks PGA in May could mean new venues
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Latest from the PGA Championship at Bellerive Country Club (all times local):
Count three-time major winner Jordan Spieth among those happy the PGA Championship is moving from August to May next year, making it the second in line after the Masters.
The schedule change is designed in part to stoke interest in what has typically flown under the radar as golf’s fourth major. And while Spieth acknowledged Tuesday that the change will help with the overall calendar flow, he also pointed out another benefit: the weather.
“The move to May opens up a lot more venues,” Spieth said before his practice round at Bellerive. “You can really go anywhere in the country in May and have an opportunity to play.”
The PGA has already been awarded through 2029 with Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma, also due to host the event. But beyond that, courses such as Shoal Creek in Alabama and layouts in Texas, Florida and California that were written off because of oppressive summer heat could be in the mix.
The scoreboards for the PGA Championship aren’t the only ones worth watching this week.
That’s because the tournament at Bellerive is the last points-paying event for the U.S. team for the Ryder Cup, and a crucial opportunity for European players to impress captain Thomas Bjorn.
Justin Thomas clinched the fourth U.S. spot by winning the Bridgestone last week, and Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Webb Simpson hold the other four automatic slots. But with a big point total at stake this week, spots on captain Jim Furyk’s team are still in play.
Regardless of who makes the team for the matches in France this September, British Open winner Francesco Molinari of Italy predicted Tuesday the American team will be “one of the strongest ever.”
“We need to get there prepared and ready to go,” he said, “and make life hard on them.”
The withering heat that greeted players for the PGA Championship this week, and left them soaked in sweat after Monday practice rounds, has given way to thunderstorms and torrential rains.
Now, those who tried to get on the course at Bellerive are simply soaked.
The storms are particularly unwelcome for those arriving from last week’s Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio. Many squeezed in a practice round Monday, but nearly all hoped to do the bulk of their preparation at relatively unfamiliar Bellerive on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Justin Thomas is the defending champion, Tiger Woods is set to play his first PGA since 2015 and Jordan Spieth will be chasing the career Grand Slam when the tournament begins Thursday.