Mark Duncan
August 01, 2014

A capsule look at 10 top contenders for the PGA Championship, to be played Aug. 10-13 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina:

JORDAN SPIETH

Age: 24.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 2.

Worldwide victories: 14.

2017 victories: AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Travelers Championship, British Open.

Majors: Masters (2015), U.S. Open (2015), British Open (2017).

2017 Majors: Masters-T11, US Open-T35, British Open-1.

Backspin: Spieth becomes the third player in the last four years to have a shot at the career Grand Slam. If he were to win the PGA Championship, he would break the record by Tiger Woods (by about six months) as the youngest with all four majors. He played Quail Hollow one time on a sponsor's exemption in 2013 and shot 75-73 on the weekend to tie for 32nd. He was runner-up two years ago in the PGA Championship behind Jason Day.

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RORY MCILROY

Age: 28.

Country: Northern Ireland.

World ranking: 4.

Worldwide victories: 21.

2017 victories: None.

Majors: U.S. Open (2011), British Open (2014), PGA Championship (2012, 2014).

2017 Majors: Masters-T7, US Open-Cut, British Open-T4.

Backspin: McIlroy keeps taking steps back right when it looks as though he's moving forward. His year has been slowed by a rib injury in January. He missed three out of four cuts going into the British Open and was 5 over through six holes when he rallied to get into the picture on the weekend, only to have another spell of mistakes. McIlroy surely would like to keep Spieth from the career Grand Slam before he gets another chance at the Masters. He is a two-time winner at Quail Hollow and will be playing with a new caddie.

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HIDEKI MATSUYAMA

Age: 25.

Country: Japan.

World ranking: 3.

Worldwide victories: 13.

2017 victories: Waste Management Phoenix Open.

Majors: None.

2017 Majors: Masters-T11, US Open-T2, British Open-T14.

Backspin: He has played as consistently well as anyone in the majors this year, though his only close call was the U.S. Open and he never was near the lead at Erin Hills. At the start of the year, he was a popular choice to bring Japan its first major. But his only victory was in February, and he missed his only cut this year at Riviera when he had his only chance to reach No. 1 in the world.

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DUSTIN JOHNSON

Age: 33.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 1.

Worldwide victories: 15.

2017 victories: Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

Majors: U.S. Open (2016).

2017 Majors: Masters-DNP, US Open-Cut, British Open-T54.

Backspin: Johnson looked unbeatable going into the majors, and they have turned into his biggest disappointment. More than the severity of his back injury when he fell down the stairs on the eve of the Masters was the momentum he lost from going a month without being able to practice. He has said the road back to his top form is harder than it looks, and he also has lost some confidence over the putts that made him so hard to beat. He has played Quail Hollow three times, the most recently six years ago, and missed the cut twice.

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JON RAHM

Age: 22.

Country: Spain.

World ranking: 6.

Worldwide victories: 2.

2017 victories: Farmers Insurance Open, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open.

Majors: None.

2017 Majors: Masters-T27, US Open-Cut, British Open-T44.

Backspin: His two victories make him the most feared player of the newcomers, and he would be could confirm his reputation as a future star by winning the final major of the year. His form was great going into the Masters and British Open, and perhaps that became a burden. His temper is being viewed more appropriately as passion, and it helps him as much if not more than it hurts him.

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RICKIE FOWLER

Age: 28.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 11.

Worldwide victories: 7.

2017 victories: Honda Classic.

Majors: None.

2017 Majors: Masters-T11, US Open-T5, British Open-T22.

Backspin: Fowler looked as though he might finally break through and win a major this year until he wasted good chances at the Masters, where he closed with a 76, and the U.S. Open, where he closed with a 72. He was never in the mix at the British Open, though he has remained patient and sees his opportunities as chances to win, not more chances to fail. The key for Fowler is a good start. His first PGA Tour victory was at Quail Hollow in a playoff over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points.

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SERGIO GARCIA

Age: 37.

Country: Spain.

World ranking: 5.

Worldwide victories: 26.

2017 victories: Omega Dubai Desert Classic, Masters.

Majors: Masters (2017).

2017 Majors: Masters-1, US Open-T21, British Open-T37.

Backspin: Garcia has only one top 10 since he won the Masters, a runner-up finish in Germany. His game has been steady, however, and he his outlook is more positive than ever as a major champion and stability in his personal life. He married Angela Akins on July 29 in Texas. It was at the PGA Championship in 1999 when the Spaniard first showed off his potential when he nearly tracked down Tiger Woods at Medinah. Not since Jack Nicklaus in 1975 has someone won the Masters and PGA in the same year.

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MATT KUCHAR

Age: 39.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 12.

Worldwide victories: 9.

2017 victories: None.

Majors: None.

2017 Majors: Masters-T4, US Open-T16, British Open-2.

Backspin: He doesn't have enough victories to be near the top of the list of the best to have never won a major, but he has become the sentimental choice as best without a major with how he handled himself at the British Open. Kuchar has gone three years without a PGA Tour victory, and two years since he won the Fiji International on a working holiday. He is coming off a big disappointment at finishing second to Jordan Spieth's great finish at Royal Birkdale.

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BROOKS KOEPKA

Age: 27.

Country: United States.

World ranking: 10.

Worldwide victories: 4.

2017 victories: U.S. Open.

Majors: U.S. Open (2017).

2017 Majors: Masters-T11, US Open-1, British Open-T6.

Backspin: Koepka quietly has the lowest aggregate finishes of anyone in the majors this year, quiet only because so much attention was on his four-shot victory in the U.S. Open. Struggled at the start when he had an outside chance at Royal Birkdale. He took an extended break after his U.S. Open victory to prepare for a heavy schedule at the end of the year. He has never played Quail Hollow, though his power game should be ample.

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JASON DAY

Age: 29.

Country: Australia.

World ranking: 7.

Worldwide victories: 11.

2017 victories: None.

Majors: PGA Championship (2015).

2017 Majors: Masters-T22, US Open-Cut, British Open-T27.

Backspin: The biggest surprise of the year has been Day, especially after declaring he wanted to keep the No. 1 ranking all year. He was distracted early by his mother's battle with lung cancer, along with what he felt was the burden of being No. 1. Now he's all the way down to No. 7 and losing ground quickly. He keeps waiting to snap out of this slump, and maybe it will take the final major of the year to do that. Day has played Quail Hollow twice, a tie for 22nd in 2010 and a tie for ninth in 2012.

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