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PGA Championship: 5 Things to Watch in Thursday's First Round

Previewing the 2015 PGA Championship
Jessica Marksbury, Eamon Lynch and Jeff Ritter preview the 2015 PGA Championship from Whistling Straits.

The PGA Championship begins Thursday on the shores of Lake Michigan. In case you haven’t been paying attention (either you live under a rock or checked out of the golf season once Jordan Spieth’s Grand Slam hopes were dashed), here are the most important things to keep an eye on during Thursday’s opening round at Pete Dye’s Whistling Straits.

Rory McIlroy’s Left Ankle

The world No. 1 injured his ankle in early July and missed the Scottish Open, the British Open and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational. After several vague Instagram posts last week, McIlroy showed up in Wisconsin ready to roll. He says the ankle is 100 percent, an assertion that’s been picked apart by critics, but we won’t really know the truth until we see him in action for the first time since the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.

Jordan Spieth’s Most Recent Shot at History

The reigning Masters and U.S. Open champ has a shot to become only the third player in history to win three majors in a season, following Ben Hogan in 1953 and Tiger Woods in 2000. Something tells us this won’t be the only season in which Spieth has multiple opportunities to join this group (provided he doesn't win this week).

Tiger Woods’ On-Course Golf Swing

The 14-time major champion has been reduced to a driving range hero. As is evident by his scores so far this year, Woods' swing on the course is an entirely different story. What swing will Tiger bring to the first tee at Whistling Straits, a course where he’s played two PGAs and finished no better than T24?

Dustin Johnson’s Mental Strength

This likely won’t be on display Thursday, unless DJ hasn’t learned his lesson from 2010 and once again didn’t read the rules sheet. Chances are we’ll see him near the top of the leaderboard through 36 holes, but gaffes in the last two majors, not to mention at Whistling Straits in 2010, might be weighing on his mind. Can he overcome?

Zach Johnson’s Victory Lap

The British Open champ was spotted Tuesday night in downtown Sheboygan eating dinner alongside the claret jug. Hey, wouldn’t you? Johnson has a chance to become only the seventh player to win the year’s final two majors, McIlroy having accomplished the feat last year. ZJ never seems to grab that much attention (well, maybe at the John Deere Classic), but that could change dramatically with a win this week.

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