Tiger Woods will have a familiar threesome for the first two rounds of the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black. The Masters champion will play alongside Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari as the tournament continues its tradition of pairing the previous three major winners together.
The difference this year, of course, is that the last PGA Championship came just two majors ago. But despite the schedule change, the pairing will retain the same format, tournament organizers announced on Tuesday morning.
“We did talk about it and are continuing our process of having the last three major champions paired together,” said Kerry Haigh, the PGA of America’s Chief Championships Officer. “So that would be Koepka, Molinari and Tiger Woods. So we’re certainly excited for the prospect of that.”
Haigh also hinted toward “some other exciting groupings” which will be revealed with complete tee times the Friday before the tournament.
Woods and Koepka battled down the stretch at last year’s PGA Championship, which Koepka went on to win. Woods and Molinari were paired together in the final group at this year’s Masters, which Woods went on to win. Woods and Molinari also played together on Sunday at the 2018 British Open, where Woods took the lead but Molinari eventually won by two.
All together, their recent major resumes are impressive. Koepka won the U.S. Open and the PGA Championship and finished T2 at this year’s Masters. After his British Open win, Molinari finished T6 at the PGA and T5 at this year’s Masters. And Woods was T6 at the British Open and solo 2nd at the PGA before winning the Masters earlier this month.
PGA of America CEO Seth Waugh described the heightened level of anticipation he feels in the lead-up to this event.
“I don’t know about you guys, but watching the last putt at the Masters, it was an I-can’t-wait-to-go-out-and-hit-some-7-irons-in-my-backyard kind of thing, because you just kind of get the bug. We think this will really feed into that in a huge way. We’re excited about it. Obviously Tiger, you know, he has impact, sort of like the moon landing. It’s not golf; it’s where-were-you-when kind of stuff.”
In the wake of Woods’ Masters win, Waugh said the momentum had already affected Bethpage in a positive way. “The impact immediately afterwards was extraordinary in terms of ticket sales,” he said. “We were basically sold out for the weekend, but the requests just poured in across the board in lots of ways.”
The first round of the PGA Championship begins Thursday, May 16 at Bethpage Black.