Five burning questions heading into Saturday at Quail Hollow

August 11, 2017

We’re nearly half way through the 2017 PGA Championship. But a full slate of questions linger. Here are five we’ll be chewing on tonight.

1. Can he be the comeback kid?

Career grand slam-seeker Jordan Spieth has won two of his three majors wire-to-wire, so we know that he can handle playing with the lead. But by day’s end Friday, he was stuck at a three over par, 11 shots off the lead, and tied for 46th. Does he also have it in him to blaze to victory from behind?

2. Is this Groundhog’s Day?

Jason Day hasn’t quite been himself this season. But after a scorching second round (he shot a five-under 66 to reach six under) he’s hot on the heels of the leaders. We’ve seen what the Aussie can do when he’s in peak form (as in, the 2015 PGA Championship). Will this weekend be Day-ja vu all over again?

3. What the Hideki?

Having cruised to victory with a closing 61 last week, Hideki Matsuyama was back on the birdie train on Friday, rolling to a seven-under 64 to move into a tie for the lead. A victory here would give him his first major. It would also make him the first man from Japan to claim a major crown. How will Matsuyama manage his emotions, to say nothing of the weight of history?

4. Can Kisner keep it up?

Grabby and grainy, the Bermuda grass at Quail Hollow has given some of the world’s best players fits. Among the exceptions is South Carolina native Kevin Kisner, who cut his teeth on just this kind of turf. Tossing him onto Bermuda is like throwing Brer Rabbit back in the briar patch. So the grass will be familiar for Kisner this weekend. But his position won’t. He’s tied for the lead at eight under, but he’s never finished inside the top 10 at a major. Never mind what’s growing on the ground. What will be going on in Kisner’s head?

5. No more Bones. But who should be on his bag?

After backing up a sloppy first-round 79 with a desultory 74, Phil Mickelson won’t be around this weekend. But he’ll still be a story. Or, rather, his sidekick will. This is the second consecutive cut in a major Mickelson has missed since breaking up with his longtime caddie Jim “Bones” Mackay. And the first time in 22 years that he hasn’t made the weekend in the PGA Championship. Lefty’s brother, Tim, has been looping for him, and Jimmy Walker, who played with Phil this weekend, noticed a difference. “There’s way less interaction,” Walker told our Alan Shipnuck. “It seems like he’s doing it mostly on his own. I don’t know why he doesn’t have a real caddie.” Many others are wondering the same.