Tour Confidential: Who is under the most pressure at the PGA Championship?

jon rahm hits a shot during the pga championship

Jon Rahm watches an approach shot during a PGA Championship practice round.

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The 2024 PGA Championship begins on Thursday at Valhalla Golf Club, and there’s no shortage of storylines. Who is under the most pressure to perform this week?

James Colgan, news and features editor (@jamescolgan26): Could the answer be … Michael Block?! OK — maybe among the PGA pros in the field, but in all seriousness, hard not to see how Scottie is under the most pressure. Hasn’t shot a round over par in 26 years, is the reigning winner of everything, and enters this week after fully establishing himself as the Alpha World No. 1 in Augusta. It’s one thing to get yourself there, but it’s another to stay there now that everybody’s watching. Gonna be hard for him to perform up to expectations … especially with Blockie in the field.

Jack Hirsh, assistant editor (@JR_HIRSHey): I think it’s hands down Jordan Spieth. We thought his tumble down the rankings was over in 2021 and 2022 but now he’s winless since Harbour Town in 2022 and fallen to 24th in the world. On top of his middling form, this is now Attempt No. 7 for the Career Grand Slam. We talk about how Rory’s window to win the Masters might be fading, but he’s still playing some of the best golf of his career. Spieth is most definitely not.

Dylan Dethier, senior writer (@dylan_dethier): It’s gotta be Rory McIlroy. Forget the divorce stuff. How ‘bout the fact that he’s the second-best player in the world, he hasn’t won a major in 10 years, he’s returning to the site of his last major win AND he’s coming in off back-to-back victories? (Or one-and-a-half victories, depending on how you count the team thing.) He’s in form and he’s past due and this course sets up perfectly for him. He’s not shying away from it, either. Just listen to the expectations he put on himself after Sunday’s blowout win at Quail Hollow: “It’s really funny, so going into Valhalla in 2014 I had won my last two starts, and going into this year I’ve won my last two starts. Just need to try to replicate whatever I did in 2014, just try to do that all over again.” He also mentioned “the stars aligning.” They may well be. But that’s a lot of pressure!

Josh Berhow, managing editor (@Josh_Berhow): For starters, Jordan Spieth doesn’t even make the top five on this list. He is what he is at this point: a good, exciting fan favorite who hasn’t won a major in six years. There are lots of players I’d put ahead of him. I’d slot Rory at No. 2, since he’s coming in with more hype than ever, looking for his first major in 10 years and at a place where that last major actually happened. Then, throw in the off-the-course stuff, and he’s got a lot going on right now. But I’m actually going to put Jon Rahm at No. 1. He went to LIV after a year in which he won the Masters and finished top 10 in two other majors. I’ve said before I think he probably misses the PGA Tour’s big-tournament stops (and 72 holes!) more than any other LIV player, and I think the limited time we now see him creates more pressure. In short, he’s no longer in the Memorial, the Players, etc., so the list of BIG tournaments he plays in is now smaller, so that means these majors mean even more.

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