One of the primary traditions — if you can call it that — at the PGA Championship is pairing the three major winners from the three previous major events together for the first two rounds of play. Because the PGA Championship was traditionally held in August, this made a lot of sense. The Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship winners always played together for the PGA.
Now, 2018 U.S. Open and PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka and 2018 Open champion Francesco Molinari will get to do it twice. They were grouped with 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed at last year’s PGA Championship at Bellerive. This time around, with the PGA’s move to May and because Koepka won the PGA on top of the U.S. Open, they’ll get another Nike golfer in 2019 Masters winner Tiger Woods. That threesome constitutes the three most recent major champions.
“We did talk about it and are continuing our process of having the last three major champions paired together,” said chief championships officer Kerry Haigh on a conference call this week. “So that would be Koepka, Molinari and Tiger Woods. We’re certainly excited for the prospect of that, assuming that is what it ends up being.
“I think we’ve had our former champions, we tend to pair those together, and that will continue, as well as some other exciting groupings. They will be released the Friday afternoon of the week prior as normal. I think with the strength of the field, being such a strong field, I would say just about every pairing will be a great pairing.”
Sure, but none will be as compelling as a group with a 15-time (!) major winner in Woods. Every storyline and every sub-storyline will be about the Big Cat as we head into the second major of 2019. Koepka is trying to join a historic club himself with four major titles before the age of 30, and that will be interesting. But it will be overshadowed in a big way by Woods.
Interestingly, this trio was also all in contention at the Masters in April before Woods pulled away. Koepka finished T2, one stroke back of Woods, and Molinari finished T5 after playing the last 18 holes alongside Tiger.
The PGA Championship gets underway starting May 16 at Bethpage Black in Farmingdale, New York.