Photo: Gary Kellner/PGA of America via Getty Images

The 2020 PGA Championship tees off Thursday at San Francisco's TPC Harding Park, which is hosting its first-ever major.

Why it matters: It's the first major in more than a year — and the first of seven majors in the next 12 months. Though there won't be any fans in attendance, the excitement is palpable.

  • "We are about to enter, starting Thursday, the greatest stretch of golf in the history of the game," sportscaster Jim Nantz said.

The state of play: Naturally, the field is loaded, featuring 95 of the world's top 100 golfers.

  • Brooks Koepka is going for his third straight PGA Championship title, a feat never accomplished since it switched to stroke play in 1958 (Walter Hagen won four in a row in match play during the 1920s).
  • Tiger Woods appears set to make a rare putter switch, using his backup Scotty Cameron instead of the famous Newport-2 he used to win 14 of his 15 majors.
  • Justin Thomas is currently ranked No. 1 in the world and is coming off an impressive World Golf Championship win. He won the 2017 PGA Championship and finished tied for sixth in 2018 (didn't play in 2019).
  • Bryson DeChambeau is absolutely crushing the ball off the tee. That makes him a favorite, as Harding Park's thick rough favors big bombers because it's far easier hit short irons out of it than it is to hit long irons.

TPC Harding Park is a city-owned course, with roughly 65,000 rounds played there each year, some for as little as $50.

  • This makes it arguably "the most unpretentious site ever to host a major," said Phil Ginsburg, general manager of San Francisco's Recreation and Parks Department.
  • "One side is lined by dorms and apartment buildings across a busy boulevard, fenced by chain-link," writes the New York Times' John Branch.
  • "There is no chateaux-style clubhouse, and amid the cart-pulling, bag-carrying golfers are joggers and dog walkers."
  • "But the course is blessed with a classic layout — tight fairways lined by majestic cypress trees, its front nine folded inside a back nine that unwinds alongside Lake Merced."

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
28 mins ago - Technology

Candidates go online to cut through debate noise

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

While President Trump and Joe Biden fought to be heard in a rowdy debate Tuesday, both campaigns sought to draw digital battle lines and occupy online turf they could have all to themselves.

The big picture: Trump's impulsive Twitter style made a shambles of the debate format, but online the candidates were able to find niches where they couldn't be interrupted — and could motivate their supporters to donate, organize and turn out to vote.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Shell plans up to 9,000 job cuts by 2022

A Shell station in Brazil. Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Royal Dutch Shell will shed up to 9,000 jobs as it undergoes a long-term restructuring around climate-friendly energy sources and continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic that has battered the oil industry.

Why it matters: The cuts could amount to over 10% of the company's global workforce, which was 83,000 at the end of 2019.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

The coronavirus' alarming impact on the body

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Scientists are racing to learn more about the damage the novel coronavirus can do to the heart, lungs and brain.

Why it matters: It’s becoming increasingly clear that some patients struggle with its health consequences — and costs — far longer than a few weeks.