In normal circumstances, the US PGA Championship would have been the second major of the year in its relatively new May slot.

But with everything that's happened in 2020, following the outbreak of a global pandemic which has already led to the rescheduling of the Masters and the cancellation of the Open, it will be the first in this calendar year for those looking to add majors to their collection or win one for the first time.

And the absence of spectators will give a unique feel to proceedings at TPC Harding Park, San Francisco. What effect that has will be interesting to see.

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Conditions

The course will be the first in the western United States to host the PGA Championship since 1998 - when Vijay Singh won at Sahalee Country Club in Washington State - and the first in California for a quarter of a century.

According to Golf.com, the fairways will be narrow, which leaves little margin for error across the weekend.

Temperatures in the San Francisco area will range between 21 and 23 degrees Celsius between now and Sunday, with rain not expected according to the latest forecast.

Players to watch

Starting with the Irish contingent, Rory McIlroy's wait for another major now stretches to six years. This tournament, which he has won twice, provided that last major success at Valhalla when he finished a shot clear of Phil Mickelson.

He struggled last time out at the WGC FedEx St Jude's Invitational in Memphis, finishing well off the pace in a tie for 47th and has yet to finish in the top ten since the PGA Tour's resumption at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June. That was in contrast to his general form previous to the suspension of play and much of 2019 in particular.

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry warmed up for the US PGA Championship with a top ten finish at in Memphis last weekend, marking a timely return to form.

Graeme McDowell comes into the tournament having failed to make the cut in three of the last five tournaments, with his best a tie for 35th at both the Workday Charity Open and in Memphis.

Previous winner Padraig Harrington announced last week that he would not be travelling to the US for the tournament.

Eye on the Tiger

Elsewhere, Brooks Koepka has long since become a favourite on major weeks and this year, he is aiming to make it three in a row at the US PGA Championship. Last year, he managed to finish in the top four at every major which shows remarkable consistency.

Justin Thomas, who saw off Koepka in Memphis four days ago to win the tournament, has been speaking this week about how he feels he's underachieved given he has just one major to his name. It will be interesting to see if he can follow up that talk with a major.

Jon Rahm usurped McIlroy's place at the top of the world rankings last month so he of course will be one to watch.

And all eyes will be on Tiger Woods as per usual, although this time it will be via TV screens rather than the close quarters of teeming galleries he has been accustomed to throughout his career.

He returned at Memorial this time last month but skipped Memphis to be fully prepared for this week.

Key Tee Times (Irish time)

4.11pm: Shane Lowry, Brooks Koepka, Gary Woodland

4.22pm: Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Dustin Johnson

4.33pm: Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas

9.25pm: Graeme McDowell, Bubba Watson, Matthew Wolff

9.36pm: Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Viktor Hovland

9.47pm: Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Bryson DeChambeau

9.58pm: Jon Rahm, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia