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Wednesday, 16 January, 2019

Magnificent Matsuyama peaks on eve of the final Major

Japanese beast Hideki Matsuyama
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Yuta Ikeda
The Japanese raider has missed the cut in every Major this year. Has never bettered 29th place in a Major.

Thongchai Jaidee
The Thai veteran typically struggles in elite competition. He has never bettered 36th place in a Stateside Major.

Dustin Johnson
The world number one has been short of his best since falling down the stairs on the eve of the Masters. Hunting a second Major title after US Open glory last summer. He ditched Quail Hollow from his schedule after missing the cut there in 2011. Had an encouraging warm-up at Firestone, going six under par for the weekend.

Zach Johnson
The dual Major champion has shown signs of life of late, finishing runner-up at Firestone on Sunday, but Quail Hollow is not an ideal track for him. Likely to get overwhelmed by bigger hitters.

Andrew Johnston
Beef did well at the Open, sharing 27th spot, but this season has been a struggle and little can be expected on his Quail Hollow debut.

Sunghoon Kang
The 30-year-old Korean is making his USPGA debut. Has made the cut in each of his previous three Majors. US Tour maiden.

Kyung-tae Kim
The Korean has a Presidents Cup under his belt (2011), but has a miserable Majors record, with 30th spot in the 2011 US Open his best effort.

Si Woo Kim
The King of the Kims, the Sawgrass champion is blessed with immense natural talent, but is handicapped by a brittle body. Missed the cut on both his Quail Hollow and UPSGA debuts last year.

Chris Kirk
The 32-year-old Knoxville man was the last man into the field, getting the gig when Brandt Snedeker pulled out with a rib injury. Kirk has not made the cut in a Major since the 2015 US Open. Has never bettered 34th place in the USPGA.

Kevin Kisner
The accurate Carolina man was sixth at Quail Hollow in 2014. He won at Colonial in May. Could scrape a top-20 finish.

Soren Kjeldsen
The Danish grinder has slipped down the world rankings this year after a late-career resurgence. Unlikely to be a factor.

Russell Knox
The Scottish plodder has missed ten cuts since being snubbed for a Ryder Cup wildcard pick last year. Has missed the cut in all three 2017 Majors. Quail Hollow form of MC-58.

Satoshi Kodaira
The 27-year-old Japanese has played in only three Majors, making the cut once. USPGA debut and easy to ignore.

Brooks Koepka
The US Open champion has established himself as one of the elite at the age of 27. Tied for sixth in the Open and well capable of challenging for the Wanamaker Trophy. Has finished fifth and fourth in the last two USPGAs. Quail Hollow debut.

Jason Kokrak
The Charlotte-based slugger has never bettered 37th place in a Major, and has never put home-state advantage to good use in the Wells Fargo.

Kelly Kraft
The 28-year-old Texan is playing in only his second Major, having finished 62nd in the 2012 Masters. The regular US Tour cut-misser can be disregarded.

Matt Kuchar
The Open runner-up seems unlikely to make his Major breakthrough at Quail Hollow. Has not competed there since missing the cut in 2010.

Anirban Lahiri
The Indian has USPGA form of MC-5-MC. Tied for 41st on his Quail Hollow debut last year.

Martin Laird
The powerful Scot has played in 20 Majors and never bettered 20th spot. Weak on and around the greens.

Pablo Larrazabal
The moody Spaniard almost certainly lacks the polish to become a Major champion. Has played in 14 Majors and made the cut only four times.

Danny Lee
The injury-prone New Zealander has never bettered 17th place in a Major. Eyecatching form of 13-9 in the last two Wells Fargos.

Marc Leishman
The Aussie has taken his game to a new level this season, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and appearing regularly on leaderboards. He has made the each-way places in four of his last 17 Majors. Poor Quail Hollow record is off-putting.

Alexander Levy
The attacking Frenchman lost a playoff for the European Open last month. A flat-track bully who has missed the cut in his last four Majors.

Haotong Li 
The Chinese number one finished the Open like an express train, going seven under par for his final 11 holes for third place. Exciting times look ahead for the 22-year-old. USPGA debut.

David Lingmerth
The 30-year-old Swede has won only once on the US Tour (2015 Memorial) and never looked good enough to become a Major champion.

Luke List
The US Tour big-hitter has been threatening a maiden victory without getting over the line in front. Quail Hollow form of 16-MC. USPGA debut.

Davis Love
The 53-year-old was born in Charlotte and has won eight US Tour titles in Carolina, the last being the 2015 Wyndham Championship, but the 1997 USPGA champ does not have the game to be a serious contender two decades later.

Jamie Lovemark
The giant Californian is bursting with power and he has played well in his two Majors this year (27th US Open, 22nd Open). Missed the cut in his only USPGA. US Tour maiden with poor Quail Hollow record.

Shane Lowry
The Irishman has played poorly since narrowly missing out on a Ryder Cup debut last year. Has a terrible USPGA record and no form at Quail Hollow.

Joost Luiten 
The Dutchman is an average player with an average Majors record, having an average season. Has never succeeded Stateside.

Hideki Matsuyama
The Japanese beast possesses such tee-to-green assurance that it seems only a matter of time before he becomes his country's first Major champion. Has quickly won five times on the US Tour and contended in Majors. He provided a final-round masterclass at Firestone on Sunday, closing with a 61 to triumph by five shots. Tied for fourth in the last USPGA and for second in the US Open in June. Progressive Quail Hollow form of 38-20-11 is encouraging too.

Graeme McDowell
The Northern Irishman appears a fading force at the age of 38 and he has missed his last two USPGA cuts. Missed the cut in 2006 in his only Quail Hollow start.

William McGirt 
The Carolina man will enjoy home-state advantage, but is probably not in good enough form to make it count. Tied for tenth in last year's USPGA.

Rory McIlroy
The former world number one is chasing a fifth Major title at a venue where has enjoyed much success. He won his maiden US Tour title by four shots at Quail Hollow in 2010, then triumphed there again by seven shots in 2015. He also lost a playoff in 2012. The course has been tinkered with, but this is obviously a golden opportunity. Can he handle the weight of expectation he will put on himself? The Northern Irishman has struggled for form and fitness this season, adjusting to new clubs, but has got among the birdies in his two latest starts.

Dave McNabb
The PGA Pro National Championship playoff loser. The 51-year-old has been in decent form and may be the one who sneaks through to the weekend.

Shaun Micheel
The 2003 USPGA champion is essentially washed up as a pro golfer at the age of 48. Has not made the USPGA cut since 2011.

Phil Mickelson
Lefty remains winless since the 2013 Open and missed the cut in the same tournament last month. He has a fantastic Quail Hollow record, 11 times finishing in the top 12, and was runner-up to McIlroy in 2010. Phil The Thrill, 47 years young, may have one last hurrah in him at a venue he loves.

Francesco Molinari 
The accurate Italian has never finished worse than 54th in his eight previous USPGA starts, but has posted only two top-ten finishes in Major competition. Short of Stateside success and easy to draw a line through.

Chris Moody
The Utah club pro will probably be in a bad mood on Friday night when he misses the cut.

Ryan Moore
The 34-year-old has been competing in Majors since 2002, but has posted only three top tens, never bettering ninth place. Has lost form and fitness this summer, and makes no appeal.

Grayson Murray 
The 23-year-old was born in North Carolina, so will be thrilled to make his USPGA debut at home. He won his maiden US Tour title at the Barbasol Championship last month, ending five months of poor form.

David Muttitt 
The New Mexico club pro missed the cut by two shots on his USPGA debut in 2013, then by five shots last year.

Kevin Na
The unconvincing 33-year-old almost certainly lacks the power and poise to become a Major champion. Has only one US Tour title to his name. Finished fifth at Quail Hollow in 2011.

Alexander Noren
The Swede won the BMW PGA Championship in May, his ninth European Tour title. Lacks Stateside success and has never competed at Quail Hollow.

Sean O'Hair
The four-time US Tour champion has gone more than six years without a victory, but he triumphed at Quail Hollow in 2009. Some decent golf over the last three months gives the Texan a top-20 squeak. Has never contended for a Major and has never bettered 12th place in the USPGA.

Thorbjorn Olesen
The Dane has been in decent nick on the European Tour, but limp Major efforts over the last four seasons and a lack of Quail Hollow form make him difficult to fancy.

Louis Oosthuizen
The carefree South African appears to be coasting through his career at the moment, picking up decent cheques without doing enough for any glory. Has a humdrum USPGA record and missed the cut in his only Quail Hollow start.

Rod Pampling
The Australian journeyman has not made a USPGA cut since 2007. Has not bettered 26th place in a full-field event this year.

Pat Perez
The fiesty Phoenix man finished sixth in the 2005 USPGA, by far his best Major effort. He was sixth at Quail Hollow in 2011, but the limited 41-year-old should be outclassed.

Rod Perry 
Veteran club pro making his fifth USPGA start and hoping to make the cut for the first time.

Thomas Pieters
The brilliant Belgian excelled on his Firestone debut last week, finishing fourth, underlining the belief that he is going to the top of the golfing tree. He finished last of the weekend qualifiers on his USPGA debut last year. Has never competed at Quail Hollow.

Kenny Pigman 
The PGA Pro National qualifier has no chance of bringing home the bacon.

DA Points
The three-time US Tour champion turned 40 in December. Tenth place in the 2011 USPGA is his best Major performance. He was a playoff loser at Quail Hollow in 2012, but miserable current form suggests he is making up the numbers this time.

Ian Poulter
The English showman has been enjoying a resurgence after injury problems, finishing second at Sawgrass and third in the Canadian Open. Tied for third spot in the 2012 USPGA. Fifth at Quail Hollow in 2009, but winless since 2012 HSBC Champions.

McIlroy has struggled for form and fitness this season, adjusting to new clubs, but has got among the birdies in his two latest starts
E.W. Terms
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