The fourth and final major of the year commences Thursday when the 2018 PGA Championship begins at Bellerive just outside of St. Louis with a massive 156-man field set to take the course. The field will include 110 of the top 112 golfers in the world and has some truly star-studded feature groups, including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas going off together over the first two days.
That trio has combined to win seven of the last 19 PGA Championships with Thomas as the most recent winner at Quail Hollow in 2017. The No. 2 player in the world is also coming off a WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in which he played in the final pairing with McIlroy and ran away from the field. All three of those golfers are having strong seasons and will be among the most-picked players at Bellerive. However, we all have our own ideas of who's going to take the 100th PGA Championship and how it's all going to unfold, including maybe a few surprises you don't see coming.
Let's take a look at a few who we think are going to have great (or terrible) weeks. Head over here if you are looking for a.
2018 PGA Championship picks, predictions
Kyle Porter, golf writer
Winner -- Rory McIlroy (12-1): He's finishing in the top 10 on leaderboards without even really playing terrific golf. Every time I watch him, it feels as if he's trying to bend his body to pull a wedge or long iron back in the direction he wants, and yet, he has six top-eight finishes in his last 12 events worldwide.
Top 10 lock -- Jason Day (22-1): He's coming off a top 10 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and has finished in the top 10 at this tournament in four of his last five appearances. The body seems to be intact, and it would be surprising to me if he finished outside the top 10.
Sleeper -- Branden Grace (66-1): Top five in two of the last three PGAs and had some nice finishes at big events earlier this summer. I'm not sure he's long enough to contend here (T79 on the PGA Tour in driving distance), but if he finds fairways, he'll be dangerous.
Top 5 in order: Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler
Bold prediction: Tiger Woods misses the cut. I don't think this will happen, but it's in play. He might be fading a little bit as the season wears on, and a thick, hot St. Louis atmosphere where the rough is tall and the course long won't exactly fit his wheelhouse.
Lowest round: 63
Winning score: 266 | Winner's Sunday score: 68
Who will win the 2018 PGA Championship, and which long shots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to find out and see the full PGA Championship projected leaderboard from the model that has nailed four of the last seven majors heading into the weekend and was all over Tiger Woods' surprising run at the The Open Championship.
Chip Patterson, golf writer
Winner -- Patrick Cantlay (50-1): Like Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed, I've got Cantlay breaking through with his first major championship win in 2018. It's going to take a much stronger performance on the greens than what he's shown so far this season to win, but Cantlay has been among the best on the PGA Tour off the tee and had his best-ever WGC finish last week at Firestone. Kyle said this week on The First Cut podcast that you could take the leaderboard from the WGC-Bridgestone and make it the likely leaderboard for the PGA Championship, and Cantlay was right there at the top with JT, DJ, Koepka and Rory.
Top 10 lock -- Dustin Johnson (19/2): It just doesn't seem possible for Johnson to play poorly in a PGA Tour event right now. He might make some mistakes that cost him a shot to win, but DJ's game almost always has him in or near the top 10. In 15 starts this season, Johnson has 10 top 10s with three wins.
Sleeper -- Bryson DeChambeau (80-1): The battle for the final Ryder Cup spots is a top three storyline for me at the PGA Championship, and right now DeChambeau is at No. 9, one spot away from automatically qualifying for the team with only one event (this week at Bellerive) to go until the cut. After winning at the Memorial, DeChambeau pointed to the Ryder Cup as a major goal for 2018, and the only way to guarantee a trip to Paris is a strong showing against his competition for that No. 7 or No. 8 spot.
Top 5 in order: Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka
Bold prediction: No one plays well early in the supergroup, which consists of JT, Rory and Tiger Woods. I haven't figured out why (maybe it's too much alpha energy for one space), but I don't think these supergroups have produced much great golf.
Lowest round: 64
Winning score: 265 | Winner's Sunday score: 67
Adam Silverstein, golf editor
Winner -- Justin Thomas (16-1): It's tough to go back-to-back, sure, but Thomas is playing the best golf in the world right now (and has most of the year). I also considered DJ here, but I don't like what I've seen from him recently, whereas Thomas has momentum heading into Bellerive. It also doesn't hurt that this he'll be playing on a second Robert Trent Jones golf course in as many weeks.
Top 10 lock -- Rory McIlroy (12-1): I could have just as easily picked McIlroy to win the whole thing, and I seriously considered it. Rory is great at PGAs, he's clearly due for a major victory (it has been four years), and the dude is a top 10 machine at majors with 12 in his last 19 such events. Granted, he doesn't have a PGA top 10 since his back-to-back major wins in 2014, but that's another story.
Sleeper -- Tony Finau (50-1): Three straight top 10s in majors this year means he's batting 1.000, and I'm getting him for an absurd value. Granted, he needs to learn how to close and actually win events, but I'll take the hard-hitter on a long course while everyone is salivating over supergroups and Tiger.
Bold prediction: Since Kyle and Chip have already taken my "Tiger misses the cut" prediction, I'll go in another direction and guess that this year's winner will come from outside the top 10 entering the weekend. In other words, I think Thomas struggles early at Bellerive and sits as many as five shots back entering the weekend before going on an absolute tear Saturday to hop up near the lead. Then there's that Sunday close we all know he's good for delivering.
Lowest round: 64
Winning score: 268 | Winner's Sunday score: 67