Matthew Fitzpatrick could be major contender at PGA Championship at Harding Park

Major championship golf on the men’s circuit returns after a coronavirus-enforced hiatus of 13 months at Harding Park in San Francisco from today.

Matt Fitzpatrick: Sheffield golfer tees off today in the PGA Championship at Harding Park.

The PGA Championship has been restored to its traditional slot of early August following its switch to May last year, and marks the first of three majors over the next four months, with the US Open in September and the Masters moved to November. July’s Open Championship has been postponed for a year.

No fans will be in attendance this week at Harding Park, making for a unique backdrop to a major championship, which are usually the more well-supported and eagerly-anticipated dates on the golfing calendar.

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There is also a cast list devoid of familiar names such as Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari, who headline a small gaggle of players that refused to travel to America due to coronavirus.

IN CONTENTION: Sheffield's Danny Willett will contest this week's PGA Championship at Harding Park.

But even without fans and a slightly weakened field, the prize of a major championship is one that will be hunted aggressivelyby a strong home contingent and a string of Englishman in particular who might cause an upset.

The US PGA has traditionally been won by Americans or international players, with Europe represented in hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy only by Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer and Padraig Harrington – whose wins over the last 12 years mask the fact that there had been none prior to that in the five decades after the tournament became a strokeplay event.

However, do not be surprised if an Englishman is the last man standing come Sunday night (early hours Monday morning UK time).

Sheffield’s Matt Fitzpatrick for one is in excellent form on the PGA Tour, particularly on the greens.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy last won a major in 2014. Picture: David Davies/PA

Tyrell Hatton, Matt Wallace and Tom Lewis are also in good nick, while even if Tommy Fleetwood, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Danny Willett have not set the golfing world alight since the resumption, they all know how to contend in major championships – particularly the latter. McIlroy’s last major victory came in the 2014 US PGA Championship at Valhalla.

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