Why the PGA Championship will be the most exciting Major of 2024

Forget The Masters and The Open, the PGA Championship is the Major most likely to deliver fireworks in 2024.

Most golf fans would probably choose The Masters or The Open as their favorite Major, but the PGA Championship is the most exciting Major of the lot.

Yes, we can hear the gasps already. But we’re doubling down on our claim because if you want to see a tight finish, with the best players slugging it out and trading birdies, then the PGA Championship is where it’s at.

Phil Mickelson won the 2021 PGA Championship

The best players tend to win

The PGA of America like to set up the course so players can get aggressive and showcase their shot-making abilities. It’s a major reason why Phil Mickelson came out on top in 2021 and why 19 of the 25 winners and runners-up since 2014 are multiple Major champions or former World No.1s.

It’s the one Major where the cream nearly always rises to the top, which has got to be a good thing given the strength of the PGA Tour-LIV Golf narrative.

Rory McIlroy is hoping to repeat his 2014 US PGA victory at Valhalla when it returns to the venue this year.

It’s always tight

There’s nothing like some final-round Major drama to get golf fans excited, and the PGA Championship delivers that more often than The Masters, the US Open, and The Open.

Over the last decade, the PGA Championship has the smallest margin of victory of all four Majors.

Average margin of victory since 2014

Masters: 2.5 shots
PGA Championship: 1.7 shots
US Open: 2.9 shots
Open Championship: 2.8 shots

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have won the last two PGA Championships at Valhalla

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy could do well

If you believe in horses for courses, a return to the Bluegrass State has got to be good news if you’re pulling for either player. Tiger won the PGA here in 2000, then Rory followed suit a decade ago.

World No.2 McIlroy is as short as 7-1 with some bookmakers to repeat the feat, and given his power and high ball flight, he appears to be the perfect fit for Valhalla.

“There’s nothing tricked up about the golf course,” said Mickelson in 2014. “You can really make a lot of putts if you get hot. If you are within 15 to 20 feet, you have a very good chance to make it. You have a consistent breaking putt.

“As far as the approach shots are concerned, it is a difficult course because the front of the greens are blocked. I feel like guys that hit the ball high and soft have a distinct advantage because you’re hitting to a small section of the green.”

Brooks Koepka won the 2023 US PGA Championship at Oak Hill.

Brooks Koepka could tie a ridiculous record

Of the many records Tiger Woods holds, this might just be one of his greatest. He remains the only man to win the PGA Championship back-to-back on two separate occasions (1999/2000 and 2006/07).

Koepka has a chance to equal that record at Valhalla. Koepka won the PGA Championship in 2018 and 2019, then again last year at Oak Hill. His recent win at LIV Golf Singapore shows he’s trending in the right direction.

If Koepka does successfully defend his title, he’ll also tie Phil Mickelson, Sir Nick Faldo, and Lee Trevino on six Major championship wins. Only 11 players in the history of the game have more.

Jordan Spieth is still chasing a career grand slam.

Jordan Spieth could complete the Career Grand Slam

There was a point in 2017 when this looked like a formality, but time hasn’t been kind to golf’s great entertainer.

Spieth is still maddeningly erratic and has only won twice since he was named Champion Golfer of the Year seven years ago. A disqualification at the Genesis Invitational continued his strange start to the season, which began with promise until his tee-to-green game deserted him for the Florida swing. He has now missed four cuts in his last six appearances, with just one top-20 finish in that time.

The inconsistencies continue to put pressure on Spieth’s incredible powers of recovery, which will undoubtedly be tested to the max at Valhalla. It’s not the type of course where you can play ‘army golf’ and get away with it, though you can guarantee Spieth will give it a good go. He always does.

Valhalla will host the 2024 PGA Championship

Valhalla’s Major pedigree is special

Putting Valhalla on a par with legendary venues such as Pebble and Oakmont may be overdoing it, especially as players were less than complimentary when it first hosted the PGA Championship in 1996. A few even compared one of the greens to a toilet seat!

However, it got another go four years later and served up one of the greatest final rounds we’ve seen since the turn of the millennium.

Rory’s victory in 2014 wasn’t quite a match for Tiger’s play-off heroics, but it did produce another memorable ding-dong between McIlroy, Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson, which saw the lead change multiple times on the back nine.

Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s Chief Championships Officer, called it “the greatest day of golf that we’ve seen in years”. The bar has been set pretty high!

Talor Gooch topped the LIV Golf money list in 2023

The PGA Championship has the strongest field of the year

While many believe The Players Championship boasts the strongest field in golf, the PGA Championship routinely has the highest ‘strength of field rating’ of the year, according to the Official World Golf Ranking. And while that may not count for much nowadays, the top 100 have received an invite, along with Tiger (obviously), 21 club professionals, and seven LIV golfers so far.

That list includes Joaquin Niemann and last year’s star Michael Block, who just so happens to hold the course record at Valhalla. Talor Gooch will also be there, having received a special invite, which means there’ll be no “asterisk” against whoever is holding the Wanamaker Trophy aloft on Sunday.

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About the author

Today's Golfer features editor Michael Catling.

Michael Catling
Features Editor

Michael Catling is Today’s Golfer‘s Features Editor and an award-winning journalist who specializes in golf’s Majors and Tours, including DP World, PGA, LPGA, and LIV.

Michael joined Today’s Golfer in 2016 and has traveled the world to attend the game’s biggest events and secure exclusive interviews with dozens of Major champions, including Jack Nicklaus, Jordan Spieth, Tom Watson, Greg Norman, Gary Player, and Justin Thomas.

Michael uses a Ping G driverPing G 3-woodPing G Crossover 3-ironPing G Series irons (4-PW), Ping Glide wedges (52º, 56º, 60º), TaylorMade MySpider Tour Putter, and Srixon AD333 golf ball.

Get in touch with Michael via email and follow him on Twitter.

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