The first major championship of the adjusted 2020 calendar has finally arrived as the golf world turns its attention to the San Francisco area and TPC Harding Park for the 102nd PGA Championship. In a year where the Open Championship has decided to take off and the Masters won't cycle back around until November, the anticipation for this return-to-August edition of the PGA Championship is at a fever pitch.
The event has also taken heightened importance for its weight in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, which will begin later this month before the other two majors of 2020 are held. With so much on the line, it's easy to find some reason to invest your time and interest in the event.
One of the great joys of watching golf is the ability to have many rooting interests and rooting angles. Sometimes it's for wagering or fantasy reasons, sometimes it's just because you like a player's vibe. With skill, odds to win and narratives all taken into consideration, we've assembled a collection of players to root for below.
Stick with CBS Sports and CBS Sports HQ for full coverage of the 2020 PGA Championship all throughout the week. Odds via William Hill Sportsbook.
|Even when there's questions about health, you know that Tiger is going to be a popular pick from fans to win and leading our list of the golfers you should root for at any major championship. Woods has familiarity at TPC Harding Park, first during his time at Stanford and then as a professional when he won a World Golf Championship at the course in the early 2000s after its facelift. The potential of winning a 16th major championship while also becoming the solo leader for PGA Tour wins with 83 is too enticing for any golf fan. If Tiger's in the mix on Sunday, no one is going to be rooting for the competition. Odds: 22-1|
|When DeChambeau debuted his new physique, juiced-up swing speed and bomber's mentality, experts quickly pointed to the PGA Championship as a course and an event that he should be able to dominate. Recent results have cooled some of the buzz, but his aggressiveness cutting the corner on doglegs and attempting to drive the green when possible is going to make for must-see television. Plus, this will be the first opportunity we've got to see if Bryson will ever be paired with or going head-to-head against Brooks Koepka, who has poked at DeChambeau through tweets and mic'd up on-course chatter. Odds: 11-1|
|Some people are Bryson fans and some are Brooks fans; where we're at with the golf world right now, I don't know if you can really feel intense rooting interest for one without rooting against the other. We haven't quite reached an Alabama vs. Auburn, or Yankees vs. Mets kind of line in the sand, but if we're looking for rivalries among golf's biggest stars, this is the best we've got. Koepka is far more decorated than DeChambeau and is looking to become the first player since Walter Hagen to win three PGA Championships in a row. (Hagen won four in a row from 1924-27.) A month ago, you would have thought the head-to-head advantage would be all Bryson but after last week's performance at Memphis, Brooks looks ready to make a run at the three-peat. Odds: 10-1|
|Compared to the intensity you get from Bryson and Brooks along with the visceral fan reaction to both golfers, new world No. 1 Justin Thomas is a breath of fresh air. Thomas' passion for the game was nurtured by his PGA professional father, but he doesn't carry the arrogance you might assume from a star with that kind of pedigree. J.T. is the best ball-striker in the world, and that keeps him in the mix to win any tournament even when he's making a few mistakes along the way. Rooting for him includes viewing and celebrating some of the prettiest shots shot-tracker will highlight, and if he's putting well, you might be rooting for a winner. Odds: 10-1|
|The oldest winner of the PGA Championship was Julius Boros, claiming the title at age 48 in 1968. Mickelson's recent form has been impressive as he contends with pros half his age and seeks to put together some of the best finishes we've seen on the PGA Tour for a player over 50. Most Phil fans root for him because they always have, but as he continues to find an extra gear at this point in his career, it's become arguably even easier to cheer for his successes. Odds: 70-1|
|Rooting for Rahm is about buying stock in a rising star and wanting to see him deliver on the major stage with what would be his first major championship. The Memorial is annually considered one of the top non-major events on the PGA Tour rotation, but winning it doesn't heighten your status in the game like a major championship. Sure, Rahm's reputation as a hot-head can easily put him in the "villain" corner, but it could just as inspiring to see all that raw talent harnessed in a way that leads to success. In fact, rooting for entertainment alone has you interested in Rahm as a key player on Sunday with the pressure allowing for either overcoming or falling victim to those temper tantrums that remain part of his reputation. Odds: 14-1|
|An all-too-familiar scene played out again on Sunday in Memphis as Fowler, in position to win at the start of his round, played his way into the background while his peers -- in this case, Thomas and Koepka -- seized on the opportunity to win as the leaderboard started falling apart down the stretch. Fowler is beloved by both fans and players, but he's spent too much time around the 18th green recently celebrating others' success instead of hoisting trophies himself. Odds: 40-1|
|It's wild to think that McIlroy was the No. 1 player in the world just earlier this year with a hot streak of top-10 finishes when you compare that to the buzz, or lack thereof, heading into this week. Rory has already won two PGA Championships, but his last one in 2014 also represents his last major. That six-year drought has been the subject of many "What's wrong with Rory?!" discussions that many would like to see put to bed, but it can only happen with a win at one of these events that means more than all the others. Odds: 14-1|
|With two wins and four top-10 finishes in eight starts, 2020 has already been one of the best years of Simpson's career, and his current ranking of No. 4 in the world has him positioned to take over No. 1 if were to win his second major championship. His win at the RBC Heritage and top-10 finish at the Rocket Mortgage has made him one of the stars of golf's return, and he serves as a foil to DeChambeau to highlight the many ways you can work your way around a golf course and win. Simpson ranks outside of the top 75 in strokes gained off the tee but is No. 6 on the PGA Tour in strokes gained overall because he's so strong everywhere else. Rooting for Webb is rooting for a style of play that proves good iron play and a hot putter can beat the bombers over 72 holes. Odds: 28-1|
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