SPRINGFIELD, N.J. - The table is set a bit different for a world-class field, as historic Baltusrol Golf Club plays host to the 87th PGA Championship this week - the eighth Major Championship that will be conducted on the grounds where so much golf history has been written.
The four-inch plus rough is now 80 percent Kentucky Bluegrass; the 7,392-yard layout is 200-yards longer than when the club hosted its seventh U.S. Open in 1993; and the greens are converted to a 90 to 95 percent bentgrass mix.
Will that spell trouble for the 156-player field, or will it yield lower scores in humid August weather?
"It will be interesting to see how this great field compares in its scoring to that of more recent Open Championships (1980 and 1993) we have hosted," said Baltusrol PGA Head Professional Doug Steffen. "There have been some significant changes since then. The rough was sparse in 1993, and the greens are different now than they were in 1980 and 1993.
"The course will play longer, but the greens will be softer due to the weather. You can't control the water in August. I think it will be a great test, regardless."
The 87th PGA Championship, the season's final Major, features 93 of the Top 100 world-ranked players, the most for any Major this year. The 156-player field includes 28 players who have combined for 45 titles; and a PGA Championship record 62 international players representing 21 countries.
This will mark the second PGA Championship in New Jersey, and first since Sam Snead triumphed at Seaview Country Club in Atlantic City in 1942. It is the first PGA Championship for Baltusrol Golf Club, which has hosted seven U.S. Open Championships dating back to 1903, when Willie Anderson defeated David Brown in an 18-hole playoff, a day after concluding 72 holes in a dead heat.
In 1903, Baltusrol's Original Course (which no longer exists), was played at 6,003 yards. In 1993, the Open was contested at 7,152 yards. The past four Open championships were played on the Lower Course.
"We believe that we have a great test of golf at Baltusrol, despite taking a bad rap for having record scores the past two Opens (Jack Nicklaus posting a record 72-hole total 272 in 1980; and Lee Janzen matching the winning score in 1993)," said Steffen. "We are a Club whose membership (1,300 members overall) are accustomed to hosting Major Championships. We are the only Club to host both a men's and women's U.S. Open on its two courses." This will be the 16th national Championship for any gender at Baltusrol."
Defending PGA Champion Vijay Singh, who also won in 1998, is joined by 13 Past Champions: Hal Sutton (1983), Bob Tway (1986), Jeff Sluman (1988), Wayne Grady (1990), John Daly (1991), Paul Azinger (1993), Steve Elkington (1995), Mark Brooks (1996), Davis Love III (1997), Tiger Woods (1999 and 2000), David Toms (2001), Rich Beem (2002) and Shaun Micheel (2003).
Woods, winner of this year's Masters and British Open, will bid for another piece of history. Should he capture the Wanamaker Trophy, he would become the first golfer to win three majors in a year twice. He accomplished the feat in 2000, missing only the Masters.
In addition to swing changes the past two years, Woods assessed his overall game during that period.
"I think experience helps, my course management skills, my knowledge of the game," he said Tuesday. "My short game, I've learned more shots. I think just overall experience. I've gone through a lot the last couple of years -- how to manage a round of golf, because I didn't really have my mechanics last year. I wasn't really hitting it solid and crisp and clean day-in and day-out, so I had to somehow manage a score, and those experiences sure helped."
Should Woods manage his game as most expect him to do, he will match Walter Hagen - one of the founders of The PGA of America - with 11 professional Major titles. A win would leave Woods chasing only one player - a two-time winner at Baltusrol - Jack Nicklaus with 18 professional Major titles.
"The drive is still the same to go out there and win the Championship, put myself there and hopefully come out on top," said Woods. "That hasn't changed. That's still the same."
The PGA of America, founded in 1916, is a not-for-profit organization that promotes the game of golf, while continuing to enhance the standards of the profession. The Association is comprised of more than 28,000 men and women PGA Professionals who are dedicated to growing participation in the game of golf.
87th PGA Championship Field
ALLEN, Michael - Scottsdale, Ariz.
ALLENBY, Robert - AUSTRALIA
AMES, Stephen - CANADA
ANDRADE, Billy - Bristol, R.I.
APPLEBY, Stuart - AUSTRALIA
ATWAL, Arjun - INDIA
AUSTIN, Woody - Derby, Kan.
AZINGER, Paul - Bradenton, Fla.
BEEM, Rich - Austin, Texas
BERRY, Don - Brooklyn Park, Minn.
BJORN, Thomas - DENMARK
BOHN, Jason - Acworth, Ga.
BROOKS, Mark - Fort Worth, Texas
BRYANT, Bart - Ocoee, Fla.
CALCAVECCHIA, Mark - Phoenix, Ariz.
CAMPBELL, Chad - Lewisville, Texas
CAMPBELL, Michael - NEW ZEALAND
CASEY, Paul - ENGLAND
CEJKA, Alex - GERMANY
CHOI, K.J. - KOREA
CINK, Stewart - Duluth, Ga.
CLARK, Tim - SOUTH AFRICA
CLARKE, Darren - NORTHERN IRELAND
COSTON, Jeff - Blaine, Wash.
COUPLES, Fred - Santa Barbara, Calif.
CRANE, Ben - Beaverton, Ore.
CURTIS, Ben - Stow, Ohio
DALY, John - Dardanelle, Ark.
DAVIS, Brian - ENGLAND
DIMARCO, Chris - Orlando, Fla.
DODD, Stephen - WALES
DONALD, Luke - ENGLAND
DOUGHERTY, Nick - ENGLAND
DURANT, Joe - Pensacola, Fla.
DUVAL, David - Denver, Colo.
ELKINGTON, Steve - AUSTRALIA
ESTES, Bob - Austin, Texas
FASTH, Niclas - SWEDEN
FAXON, Brad - Barrington, R.I.
FLEMING, Tim - Oklahoma City, Okla.
FLESCH, Steve - Union, Ky.
FORD, Bob - Oakmont, Pa.
FRANCO, Carlos - PARAGUAY
FUNK, Fred - Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
FURYK, Jim - Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.
GALLACHER, Stephen - SCOTLAND
GARCIA, Sergio - SPAIN
GEIBERGER, Brent - Palm Desert, Calif.
GLOVER, Lucas - Greenville, S.C.
GOOSEN, Retief - SOUTH AFRICA
GRADY, Wayne - AUSTRALIA
GREEN, Richard - AUSTRALIA
HAAS, Jay - Greenville, S.C.
HAMILTON, Todd - McKinney, Texas
HANSON, Peter - SWEDEN
HARRINGTON, Padraig - IRELAND
HART, Dudley - Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
HENSBY, Mark - AUSTRALIA
HERRON, Tim - Wayzata, Minn.
HO, S.K. - SOUTH KOREA
HOWELL, III, Charles - Orlando, Fla.
HOWELL, David - ENGLAND
IMMELMAN, Trevor - SOUTH AFRICA
JACOBSON, Fredrik - SWEDEN
JAIDEE, Thongchai - THAILAND
JANZEN, Lee - Orlando, Fla.
JIMENEZ, Miguel Angel - SPAIN
JOHNSON, Chip - North Scituate, Mass.
JOHNSON, Richard - SWEDEN
JOHNSON, Zach - Cedar Rapids, Iowa
KATAYAMA, Shingo - JAPAN
KAYE, Jonathan - Phoenix, Ariz.
KELLY, Jerry - Madison, Wis.
KESTNER, Darrell - Glen Cove, N.Y
LAFEBER, Maarten - THE NETHERLANDS
LANGER, Bernhard - GERMANY
LEANEY, Stephen - AUSTRALIA
LEHMAN, Tom - Scottsdale, Ariz.
LEONARD, Justin - Dallas, Texas
LEVET, Thomas - FRANCE
LEWIS, J.L. - Austin, Texas
LONARD, Peter - AUSTRALIA
LONG, Travis - Henderson, Nev.
LOVE III, Davis - Sea Island, Ga.
MAGGERT, Jeff - The Woodlands, Texas
MAHAN, Hunter - Keller, Texas
MARTIN, Jeff - Warwick, R.I.
MARUYAMA, Shigeki - JAPAN
MAYFAIR, Billy - Scottsdale, Ariz.
MCCARRON, Scott - Reno, Nev.
MCDOWELL, Graeme - NORTHERN IRELAND
MCGINLEY, Paul - IRELAND
MELTON, Brett - Chicago, Ill.
MICHEEL, Shaun - Memphis, Tenn.
MICKELSON, Phil - Scottsdale, Ariz.
MIELKE, Mark - East Norwich, N.Y
MITCHUM, Kelly - Southern Pines, N.C
MONTGOMERIE, Colin - SCOTLAND
MORIN, Alan - Royal Palm Beach, Fla.
MOSS, Rob - Broadview Heights, Ohio
NA, Kevin - Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
O'HAIR, Sean - Boothwyn, Pa.
O'HERN, Nick - AUSTRALIA
OBERHOLSER, Arron - Scottsdale, Ariz.
OGILVIE, Joe - Austin, Texas
OGILVY, Geoff - AUSTRALIA
OLAZABAL, Jose Maria - SPAIN
OWEN, Greg - ENGLAND
PALMER, Ryan - Hurst, Texas
PAMPLING, Rod - AUSTRALIA
PARNEVIK, Jesper - SWEDEN
PARRY, Craig - AUSTRALIA
PEREZ, Pat - Scottsdale, Ariz.
PERNICE, Tom - Murietta, Calif.
PERRY, Kenny - Franklin, Ky.
PETROVIC, Tim - Dade City. Fla.
PHILO, Ron - Amelia Island, Fla.
POULTER, Ian - ENGLAND
PURDY, Ted - Phoenix, Ariz.
QUIGLEY, Brett - Barrington, R.I.
REID, Michael - Orem, Utah
REMESY, Jean Francois - FRANCE
RILEY, Chris - Las Vegas, Nev.
ROBERTS, Loren - Germantown, Tenn.
ROLLINS, John - Richmond, Va.
SABBATINI, Rory - SOUTH AFRICA
SCHNEITER, Steve - Sandy, Utah
SCOTT, Adam - AUSTRALIA
SHEEHAN, Patrick - Orlando, Fla.
SINGH, Vijay - FIJI
SLOCUM, Heath - Pensacola, Fla.
SLUMAN, Jeff - Hinsdale, Ill.
SMALL, Mike - Chicago, Ill.
SPENCE, Scott - Shorewood, Minn.
STARKJOHANN, Chris - Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.
STEINMETZ, Rich - Perkiomenville, Pa.
STENSON, Henrik - SWEDEN
SUTHERLAND, Kevin -Sacramento, Calif.
SUTTON, Hal - Shreveport, La.
TANIGUCHI, Toru - JAPAN
TAYLOR, Vaughn - Augusta, Ga.
TENTIS, Dave - White Bear Lake, Minn.
THELEN, Tim - Richmond, Texas
THOMAS, Craig - Muttontown, N.Y.
TOMS, David - Shreveport, La.
TWAY, Bob - Edmond, Okla.
VAN PELT, Bo - Tulsa, Okla.
VERPLANK, Scott - Edmond, Okla.
WEBSTER, Steve - ENGLAND
WEINHART, Tim - Buford, Ga.
WEIR, Mike - CANADA
WESTWOOD, Lee - ENGLAND
WIEMERS, Chris - Omaha, Neb.
WOODS, Tiger - Windermere, Fla.
YONG-EUN, Yang - KOREA
YURKIEWICZ, Jeff - Mesa, Ariz.