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Day and Scott Shoulder Aussie Hopes at Bethpage

Jason Day during a practice round at this week's PGA Championship in New York.
The PGA Championship takes on a new feel this week, the event rescheduled from its traditional August date to May but returning to a storied major venue: New York's Bethpage State Park.

The event has proven kind to Australians over the years; more have won the PGA than any of the other three men's majors.

Jim Ferrier, David Graham, Wayne Grady, Steve Elkington and Jason Day have all flown the Australian flag with pride to win the Wanamaker Trophy although Ferrier was actually a US citizen when he won in 1947.

In 2019, eight Australians will tee it up on the intimidating Bethpage Black layout, and while none are considered amongst the warm favourites to win, yet another PGA Championship is not beyond the realms of possibility.

Day won in 2015 and finished runner-up to Jimmy Walker the following year. Day comes off a good finish at the Masters where he was 5th and in his only individual event since finished midfield at the Wells Fargo Championship.

Day did finish 4th at the Barclays Tournament at Bethpage Black in 2016 and so has disclosed form over the demanding layout.

There is little doubting the capacity of Day to play the big events well as his 15 top tens from 34 major championships would suggest. 

The issue with the former World No. 1 is his volatility in terms of his health and fitness. If he is fit and ready to go there is no doubt he could contend as he did during the final round of the Masters but there are concerns in that regard.

Adam Scott has been twice 3rd at the PGA Championship and his most recent form suggests he is perhaps capable of another.

Like Day, he played Bethpage Black well in the Barclays Championship in 2016, finishing 4th. He has been in good form in 2019 and although he and Day combined terribly at the recent team’s event in New Orleans, he has done well enough in several individual events in 2019 to be a consideration at least.

Marc Leishman was forced to withdraw with an injury at the AT&T Byron Nelson last week and his most recent form has been below that he displayed earlier in the year but he has the game and demeanor suited to major championship golf.

In eight starts at the PGA Championship, Leishman has a best of 12th but the concern is whether he is fully ready following his recent form and injury issue last week.  

Cameron Smith gets to play his 4th PGA Championship having recorded a best of 25th on debut in 2015. Like Leishman, Smith’s form has dropped away over the last few weeks and he will need a sharp improvement to better his current record in the event.

Lucas Herbert and Brendan Jones have made the field courtesy of their world ranking. Herbert has not been in quite the same form as he was in his outstanding season of 2018 and will play his first PGA Championship.

Jones won recently in Japan and will play his 6th PGA Championship having a best of 24th in 2009 when self-imploding over the final nine holes after being right in the hunt with nine to play.

The two other Australians in the field are US-based PGA Teaching professionals Stuart Deane and Craig Hocknull who will play the event for the 3rd and 2nd times respectively. They played their way into the field courtesy of winning sectional PGA events and as such have done extremely well just to make it into a major championship.

The focus of Australian hopes, however, appears likely to be on Jason Day and Adam Scott due to their recent form and proven capacity to play well in the key events.

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