Phil Mickleson continues to sit out PGA Tour events amid his association with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.
The second major is upon us, and there is much to discuss. Before we get into our PGA Championship preview. K.H Lee deserves a paragraph of praise for his efforts at the Byron Nelson this weekend. The Korean stood firm and birdied the 72nd hole to retain his title. His name sat atop the PGA Tour leaderboard, one shot ahead of Jordan Spieth, who finished on -25.
Now to the juicy part. Lefty continues to sit out PGA Tour events amid his association with the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series. Unfortunately, the oldest major winner in history has scratched his name from the PGA Championship tee times sheet. Therefore, we have no defending champion, and the trophy will switch hands.
World number one Scottie Scheffler will look to keep his dream of a grand slam alive at Southern Hills in Tulsa, Oklahoma. On the other hand, Tiger Woods continues his pursuit of adding to his 15 major titles.
The Perry Maxwell golf course opened in 1936 in the Southern part of Tulsa, Oklahoma. The 7600-yard parkland course features endless undulation, monstrous par 5’s, and scores of fairway bunkers. Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner were roped in to undertake restoration work in 2018. Now, this par 70 is as challenging as ever.
The pair enhanced the presence of creeks. These little hazards meander through the course and lie waiting to swallow golf balls. In addition, these greens are ruthless. They measure an average of 5,000 square feet, 1000-less than the PGA Tour standard.
In addition, the fridge of the greens slopes downwards and can send a ball back into the rough or a tight fairway lie. Distance control is vital on approach, or birdie putts will be hard to come by.
The key factors to consider in this tournament are strokes gained on approach and around the green and accuracy from the fairway and rough.
Temperatures are set to soar on the first two days of the event, and it cools down slightly over the weekend. The element to watch the closest is the wind. A 19-knot SouthWester hits the area on Thursday afternoon, and the same wind increases to 33-knots on Friday morning.
A 23 knot north wind will take hold for the entire schedule on Saturday, and on Sunday, it will reduce to a 14-knot Southeaster. Therefore, conditions look good, but the wind will hamper scores on this lengthy layout.
World number 2 is our favourite for this event, as I believe his game suits this course. He is also the best golfer on the PGA Tour for strokes gained off the tee and tee-to-green. If he can maintain this form at Southern Hills, he will be challenging the PGA Championship leaderboard.
In the Spaniard's last 3 starts, he has claimed 2 top tens, including a victory in his last event at the Mexico Open. Furthermore, he ranks in the top 5 on the PGA Tour in driving distance, which will come in handy on this lengthy Parkland.
The Texan is playing with that confidence we saw from him in 2015, and it is so good for golf. He has only played two tournaments since missing the cut at the Masters, but he has set himself on the correct path.
The 3-time major winner lifted the RBC Heritage title and finished runner up to Korean K.H. Lee at the Byron Nelson. Speith’s strengths lie in his Scrambling ability, which is vital in this event. He is first on tour for scrambling from the rough and 10th overall for the practice.
Another motivation for Jordan is the possibility of a career grand slam. He has a real shot to fill the spot in his cabinet reserved for the Wanamaker trophy.
The 6’1 bearded Irishman has been Mr consistent since finishing runner-up at the Honda Classic in February. In his last 7 events, he has finished inside the top 15 on 6 occasions. This includes tied for third finishes at the Masters and the RBC Heritage.
His worst finish in 7 outings is a tie for 35th at the WGC Dell Technologies Matchplay.
But besides his form, I fancy Lowry for this event because of his accuracy on approach.
The man is number one on the PGA Tour in 2021-22 for accuracy from the fairway. Given the design of the greens at Southern Hills, this is a vital component required for success.
The 2020 Masters Champion lands in Tulsa with five top tens to his name this season. They include 2 titles and a tie for 3rd last week at the Byron Nelson. Hideki has not excelled in any particular area this season, but he still sits 4th on the FedEx Cup rankings.
I am bullish on the Japanese star because this type of golf course suits him. It is tough and requires expert course management. It presents similarities to Augusta, a golf course that Matsuyama knows how to conquer.
At 125/1 the Australian is a rank outsider and based on his last two outings, he deserves that title. However, the Aussie is among the top players on the PGA for proximity to the hole, a necessary quality to ensure birdie putts this week.
In addition, the Aussie is 8th on tour for getting a birdie or better when going for the green. It is worth having a little punt on Adam for that price, at least for a top 20 finish.
- Scottie Scheffler
- Justin Thomas
- Xander Schauffele
- Rory McIlroy
- Matthew Fitzpatrick