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Rory McIlroy faces a different set of questions from the last time he played, and he had answers for most of them.

His left ankle, with swelling the size of a tennis ball after he heard it snap while playing soccer with friends in early July, felt fine when he got off the plane and began preparing for the final major of the year. His game is good, and he sees no one reason why that will change when the PGA Championship starts Thursday. One other question was a little more tricky.

Who's the best player in the world?

McIlroy is No. 1 in the world ranking. He also has watched Jordan Spieth produce an inspiring year in golf by winning the Masters and U.S. Open, and then coming within one shot of a playoff at the British Open. Spieth has four wins this year, one more than McIlroy, though two of them are majors.

The shine came off golf when Spieth's bid for the Grand Slam ended at St. Andrews. It returned when McIlroy began posting photos and videos last week that indicated he would be playing at Whistling Straits, his first tournament since the U.S. Open.

 width=They face off Thursday afternoon, in the same group with British Open champion Zach Johnson. It will be the third time in the last eight majors that McIlroy and Spieth have played together the opening two rounds.

It was five years ago at this golf course that Jason Day realized he could be a contender in the majors.

He's been in the mix several times since, and with another major on tap at Whistling Straits, nobody would be surprised to see the Aussie go from king of the close call to someone who finally broke through.

Jordan Spieth got there twice before turning 22. Rory McIlroy has been there four times, and he's only 26.

Day is 27, and has been part of the conversation in most of those tournaments, along with a couple more. He's a three-time runner-up, has finished third once and fourth twice. But he has not won.

This year, the close calls have been especially painful. Most recently, he was a birdie away from joining the playoff at the British Open but instead tied with Spieth for fourth.

A month before that, Day finished ninth at the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay - an amazing finish for a man who collapsed in the second round, struck by a bout of vertigo that he'd been diagnosed with a month earlier.

Nobody would have blamed him for bowing out of a tournament after taking a tumble like that. Even Day conceded he might have quit had it not been a major where he had a good chance. Instead, h

Day followed his showing at the British Open by traveling across the Atlantic and winning the Canadian Open - his second Tour victory this season and fourth overall.

He is currently fifth in the World Golf Rankings, two spots ahead of Rickie Fowler. That would make Day "The Best Player to Never Win a Major," though that title doesn't seem to carry the same heaviness as it did 10, or even five years ago.

It has never received attention like this.

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