Major stars and world's sexiest player: golf talking points

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The second men's major of the year, at Kiawah Island, and some first-time winners on the US PGA and European tours feature in AFP Sport's golf talking points this week:

- Beware the wounded golfer -

As the world's best gather in South Carolina for the US PGA Championship this week it seems incredible to think that Rory McIlroy, who lifted the trophy at Kiawah Island in 2012, hasn't won a major in seven years. Or that Jordan Spieth hasn't won one of the big four since 2017.

But then again Hideki Matsuyama hadn't won for four years before his maiden Masters triumph last month. McIlroy and Spieth have both picked up PGA Tour titles in the last six weeks, so it's hardly a surprise to find them among the favourites.

But two players who have hardly warranted a mention in the build-up could be the ones who end up with another major for their collection.

Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are coming in under the radar after battling recent knee problems, but they had been in top form before their injuries.

Johnson won in Saudi Arabia in February, on the same weekend Koepka took out the Phoenix Open title before finishing second at the WGC Workday Championship three weeks later.

They both have major pedigree: Koepka won the PGA Championship back-to-back in 2018 and 2019, and world number one Johnson claimed last year's delayed Masters in November.

It would be no surprise to see them in contention come Sunday.

- You sexy thing -

Lee Kyoung-hoon, aka K.H. Lee, secured his place at Kiawah Island by winning at the Byron Nelson Championship on Sunday, becoming the eighth South Korean to win on the PGA Tour.

The 29-year-old has fulfilled at least one career ambition, but he is yet to attain a more unusual life goal.

Asked at the 2018 Portland Open about his ambitions, Lee -- who has a great sense of humour -- said: "First is to become the number one golfer in the world. The second is to become the number one sexiest golfer in the world!"

Dare we suggest one may be more obtainable than the other?

- 'I don't quit' -

Richard Bland was the toast of golf after winning his maiden European Tour event at the age of 48, 8,358 days since his debut at the 1998 Open championship at Birkdale -- a major remembered most for a 17-year-old Justin Rose tying for fourth place as an amateur.

"Blandy" lost his tour card two years ago, but kept believing and won back his playing rights via the Challenge Tour.

At the British Masters the ultimate journeyman finally broke through to become the oldest first-time winner in European Tour history in his 478th tournament.

"I don't quit," he said. "Even if I'm having a bad day, you never throw the towel in because you never know in this game what's round the corner."

The fairytale victory earned him plaudits from around the world.

"Today I saw something that inspired me and reminded me of why golf is the greatest game," tweeted former world number one Fred Couples.

Fellow Englishman Ian Poulter chipped in: "So happy to see that flame still burns. Hard work pays off and you earned every piece of this victory. Enjoy it."

Sergio Garcia posted: "That's what perseverance looks like. Congrats!"

- World rankings -

Latest top 10s for week beginning May 18, 2021:


1. Dustin Johnson (USA) 10.59

2. Justin Thomas (USA) 8.74

3. Jon Rahm (ESP) 8.44

4. Xander Schauffele (USA) 7.19 (+1)

5. Bryson DeChambeau (USA) 7.10 (-1)

6. Collin Morikawa (USA) 6.91

7. Rory McIlroy (NIR) 6.19

8. Patrick Reed (USA) 6.04

9. Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 5.93

10. Webb Simpson (USA) 5.58


1. Ko Jin-young (KOR) 9.69

2. Park In-bee (KOR) 8.86

3. Kim Sei-young (KOR) 8.08

4. Nelly Korda (USA) 7.68

5. Brooke Henderson (CAN) 6.32

6. Danielle Kang (USA) 6.12

7. Kim Hyo-joo (KOR) 5.67

8. Lydia Ko (NZL) 5.43

9. Lexi Thompson (USA) 5.23

10. Patty Tavatanakit (THA) 4.65 (+1)