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“I walked off the front nine saying, `This course is not all that.’ I walked off the back nine and said, `Yeah, it’s good. It’s good,’” McDowell said. “It’s a course of two nines. The front nine has no real definition to it. The back nine has a bit of elevation, a bit of water. It’s good.”

Definition is what the PGA Championship has lacked over the years. The Masters is defined by the dynamic course of Augusta National. The U.S. Open bills itself as the toughest test in golf, while the British Open is the only major played on links courses. And the PGA Championship?

“We believe we have the identity as the strongest field in golf,” said Joe Steranka, the chief executive of the PGA of America. Indeed, the top 108 players in the world ranking are scheduled to be at Kiawah Island. No other tournament gets that many from the top 100.

Then again, the world’s best seem to compete against each other more than they once did, whether it’s the World Golf Championships or even strong PGA Tour events at Quail Hollow or the Memorial.

“It’s one thing to bring them together for Chevron or Bridgestone,” Steranka said, referring to Woods‘ exhibition in December and the WGC at Firestone. “It’s another thing when a major championship is at stake. As we’ve seen already, players react differently to their own games when they get a chance to be part of golf history.”

Especially if they have a lead going into the final round.