Just the sixth golfer to shoot a 63 at a U.S. Open, Fleetwood finished a stroke behind victor Brooks Koepka earlier this year at Shinnecock Golf Club in Southhampton, N.Y. In 2017, he placed fourth at the U.S. Open. "I did a lot of work for American Express, and the vice chairman and I were good friends still good friends and I immediately called to check on him and his employee friends that I knew in the city, and he said, 'We will not be playing golf'". "I was fresh, in form, going to a place where if I worked up the leaderboard I could create a lot of noise".
The 34-year-old American, however, raced into the turn with birdies at eight and nine then rode that momentum into an error free back nine featuring five birdies.
McIlroy says he's trying to figure out what steps he has to take to go from contending to playing in the final group to lifting trophies. "I'm 42 now and I've had four back surgeries".
Usually by the time the PGA Championship comes around the talk of PGA TOUR Player of the Year is settling into a tight race.
He can lose the No. 1 ranking to Thomas if Thomas wins and Johnson finishes any worse than a three-way tie for second.
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"It's definitely something that I really want to do is get that second major", Johnson said.
If he contends again at Bellerive, much less wins his fifth PGA Championship, he could take all the drama out of his selection.
Woods himself came back to competitive golf at the end of a year ago with low expectations and a desire simply to play pain-free which he believes he has now achieved. Fleetwood tied the U.S. Open record this year with a 63 in the final round, but that wasn't enough to undo the damage of a 78 on Saturday.
His wedge play, especially inside 100 yards, is a glaring weakness in his game and while he's working hard to improve, he feels his swing is close to where it was in 2014 with the proviso that his body is now different.
"To have a great major you need a little bit of luck, whether that's weather or traffic", Pete Bevacqua, the PGA of America's chief executive, acknowledged on the eve of the championship.
It's important to keep things in perspective and realize that, you know, you could win five times in a year and not win a major, and some people would think, "Well, you haven't won a major" - for some of the elite golfers, anyway. "It is their major championship".