That routinely results in fewer marquee players teeing it up at the TPC Four Seasons Resort, but it also opens up opportunities for others on the cusp of a massive breakthrough.
Just ask defending champion Jason Dufner. After blowing a lead late in the 2011 PGA Championship, he could have skulked away and been haunted by that for the rest of his career. Instead, in 2012, Dufner enjoyed an explosive season.
To prove that his maiden Tour victory at the Zurich Classic wasn't a fluke, Dufner followed up a tie for 68th at The Players to win this event for his second triumph in three starts.
There are still past major champions in this stellar field, and also notable young guns such as Ryo Ishikawa, Jordan Spieth and, once again, 14-year-old Chinese phenom Tianlang Guan.
At age 16, Spieth actually was in contention on the weekend at this very event, finishing tied for 16th. Now 19, the teen exuded confidence in front of the media on Wednesday (h/t PGA Tour official Twitter page):
Let's take a look at when the action begins on Thursday, and also which groups to watch for as the narrative begins to take shape in Irving.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATour.com.
When: Thursday, May 16, to Sunday, May 19
Where: TPC Four Seasons Resort, Irving, Texas
Tee Times: First group begins at 7 a.m. ET. For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $6.7 million
FedEx Cup Points: 500
Thursday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. ET
Friday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. ET
Saturday: Golf Channel 1-2:30 p.m. ET, CBS 3-6 p.m. ET
Sunday: Golf Channel 1-2:30 p.m. ET, CBS 3-6 p.m. ET
For further information about the venue, visit the tournament's official website.
Groups to Watch
No. 17: Martin Kaymer, Charl Schwartzel and Angel Cabrera
How about this: three major champions in one group. What makes it more intriguing is that it's some of the most enigmatic in recent memory.
Kaymer ascended to No. 1 in the world for a brief time, then collapsed, and then reemerged as a Ryder Cup hero for Team Europe.
When Schwartzel birdied the final four holes to win The Masters in 2011, he essentially fell off the map before mounting a serious rally at the end of 2012. The last Top 10 Schwartzel had was in March at the Honda Classic, though.
As far as Cabrera is concerned, not much is expected out of him unless it's a major. There he was again at Augusta National, though, losing a heartbreaking playoff to Adam Scott. It's Cabrera's lone finish inside the Top 15 on Tour in 2013.
Kaymer's best finish since February was a tie for 35th at The Masters, so it's really anyone's guess as to what this group will produce despite how high each player has ascended in the past.
No. 18: Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner
It looked as though Kuchar was going to put up a decent defense of his Players title last week, but he collapsed in the final two rounds. As consistent as he typically is, the development was a surprising drop. However, on a course this week where par is often the goal, expect Kuchar to bounce back.
In attempting to retain his trophy at the Byron Nelson, Dufner will be paired with not only Kuchar, but also the man in Bradley who beat him in the aforementioned 2011 PGA in a playoff.
Dufner and Bradley have been paired together since that fateful day, and were even Ryder Cup teammates. Nevertheless, they're indelibly linked thanks to that piece of major championship history.
What has really been plaguing Dufner is his putter, as he ranks 153rd on Tour in strokes gained putting. That's never quite been his strong suit, but Dufner must roll it better to get back to the form he became accustomed to a year ago.
Absent a Top 10 for all of 2013, perhaps this is the venue where Dufner will begin to put everything together again.
Between Dufner's waggles, Bradley's hyper-intense countenance and Kuchar's innate popularity, this American trio should pull sizable galleries as well as strong results on the course.
No. 30: D.A. Points, Brian Gay and Louis Oosthuizen
It's usually an all-or-nothing proposition for Points, but when he's in contention, he is as dangerous as anyone. Points won the Shell Houston Open earlier in the season, needing a 10-foot putt on the 72nd hole to win by one.
That was followed up by a runner-up finish at the Zurich Classic in which Points fired a final-round 65, proving again he can get it done under intense pressure.
As far as the flatstick is concerned, there may not be a more consistent putter than Gay, who has not ranked outside the Top 17 in strokes gained putting since 2008. Unfortunately, he can't hit it nearly as far as other players, which forces him to pull long clubs for his approach shots and therefore hit well below the average of greens in regulation.
On a course not quite as intimidating in length at the Byron Nelson Championship, though, it's possible that Gay can contend more easily.
Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, is extremely streaky, but when he's on, he accentuates the strong points of both of his playing competitors and can play with the best in the world.
There should be at least some consideration to make Oosthuizen the favorite, since he is the highest-ranked player in the field at No. 7 in the world. If he can manage to putt well and stripe it as he's capable of, he will be extremely hard to beat.
At The Players, Oosthuizen got extremely hot in Round 3, as PGA Tour Media's Twitter page highlighted:
PGA TOUR Media @PGATOURmedia
Louis Oosthuizen posts six straight birdies (Nos. 9-14) to tie PLAYERS record shared by six players, most recently Tim Herron.5/11/2013, 3:22:12 PM
For such a marvelous talent, it's hard to believe the Open at St. Andrews is Oosthuizen's only PGA Tour victory. It wouldn't be surprising to see him triumph come Sunday given the lesser competition.
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