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Thomas trails Johnson, McIlroy on 2018 PGA Championship odds

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Bob Boyd

As golf mourned the loss of Australian former US PGA Tour player Jarrod Lyle, who died Wednesday night following a third battle with cancer, Fowler fired a five-under-par 65 at Bellerive Country Club to take the clubhouse lead.

A day earlier, it was his choice to not play at all, which furthers the theory he was not quite right physically over the weekend in Akron, Ohio.

That noise? It's softened considerably during the past year, and the spotlight that accompanied him to Quail Hallow shines a little less brightly on Spieth in St. Louis. Inflammation where? "Everywhere", Woods said. "Yesterday I spent a few times in the ice bath just trying to get some inflammation down and just trying to get ready for the rest of the week".

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, past major winners trying to rise once more from contenders to champions, tee off side-by-side when the 100th PGA Championship starts Thursday. It is why he was asked repeatedly about inflammation Tuesday at Bellerive Country Club. And on Sunday, although he made six birdies in a round of 73, he had trouble keeping the ball in play and was struggling with his swing. "It's going to be a big atmosphere out there and I'm looking forward to that". "I'm 42 now and I've had four back surgeries. So things are going to be different from day-to-day, and it's just about managing it".

Woods himself came back to competitive golf at the end of a year ago with low expectations and a desire simply to play pain-free which he believes he has now achieved. "I was fresh, in form, going to a place where if I worked up the leaderboard I could create a lot of noise".

Perhaps the lack of preparation will do Woods some good as everyone in the field is faced with the same situation this week.

Woods has already taken to the course at Bellerive for the customary practice rounds alongside his other competitors.

Even Justin Thomas, the defending PGA champion who's coming off a win at last week's WGC-Bridgestone, is hungry for his second career major.

The latest was a closing 73 at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron on Sunday as he chased down victor Justin Thomas, and follows on from the Hollywood-native settling for a tie for second at the Open in Carnosutie after enjoying a late share of the lead. That obviously comes out more when you are under pressure. "Sometimes golf is just like that, and it's just a case of keep doing what you're doing and eventually it will happen". "The ball is just plugging out there, and if anything it favors a guy who hits the ball high". "I'm glad that this generation of players gets to experience Tiger Woods, because that's what they need".

Tiger Woods wasn't going to waste his time lobbying USA captain Jim Furyk for one of the at-large spots on the Ryder Cup team that will head to France next month. In between, he won the 1997 tournament with an unforgettable rainbow providing the backdrop to the 18th green at Winged Foot.

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