USPGA Form Guide
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2011 US PGA Championship | Preview | 09 Aug 2011
The Highlands course at the Atlanta Athletic Club will host the final major of the year, the PGA Championship, the first major championship to be played at the course since David Toms won the 2001 version of the event.
The Rees Jones redesign of his father Robert Trent Jones and Joe Finger’s original design will measure 7467 yards, 250 yards longer than was the case in 2001.
The event brings to a close a major championship season where the first three have been claimed by first time major winners. Given current form and standings in the game then there is every chance there might well be another.
I take a look at this week’s field and assess some of the leading chances.
Donald played his way back into calculations for his first major title with a tie for 2nd at last week’s World Golf Championship event after one or two less than world number one like efforts at the Open Championship and the Canadian Open. His chances look good.
The missed cut at the Open Championship three weeks ago was his only real hiccup in what has already been a great season in 2011 for Westwood. Like Donald he has yet to win a major championship but the three winners of major championships to date in 2011 were in the same boat. He recorded a good tournament at the WGC event last week.
Stricker put together yet another good week at last week’s WGC event in Ohio. Like Westwood is still seeking his first major but has not missed a cut since this championship two years ago and seems sure to give another good account of himself. The golf course will stretch him but he is so good in every department of the game he is a real chance.
Kaymer of course will defend his title this week and although he has hardly been outstanding in recent months he has been sneaking along under the radar and might be closer to a successful defence than many are giving him credit for. A solid finishing round of 67 last week in Ohio has him in good shape mentally and physically for what lies ahead.
Mickelson is a bit hard to predict at present. His great runner-up finish at the Open Championship was his best ever finish in that event but there has also been some indifferent form of late. He did finish runner-up to Toms at Atlanta Athletic Club ten years ago which some will be pinning their hopes to but he is just a little too hard to have at present.
McIlory was the next great thing two months ago when he ripped apart a US Open field. His less than impressive week at the Open Championship was followed by a disappointing week at the Irish Open where he may have had a just a little too much expected of him. He did well enough when 6th last week however for him to now be a serious consideration for his second major title as he should be.
Day did very well in this event at Whistling Straits last year when, in just his second major championship, he finished 10th. He has gone on to become one of the game’s most exciting talents and has proven himself more than capable of handling the big stage. This course should suit him well and I expect another great week from him. Already twice runner-up in majors this year Day could well win the first of what should be many majors. A very good week last week has him ready for another big effort.
The combination of a switch to the long putter and the more recent inclusion of caddie Steve Williams on his team has brought about a transformation in Adam Scott. He is oozing confidence right now and while there has been a question mark over his capacity to contend in major championships that now appears a thing of the past. He and Day have a great opportunity to become the 5th Australian to win a PGA Championship. His win last week has him at his peak and if he can maintain that he can win.
Watney will be keen to put to bed the memories of last year’s PGA Championship where he led into the final round of the event at Whistling Straits before a final round of 80 saw him fall back. Watney has already on two big events on the PGA Tour this season and despite a poor final round in Akron he could still be a factor.
Johnson was only average last week in Ohio but he has already proven himself to be a big event performer. He fell victim to a bizarre mistake at the final hole of this event last year but has bounced back with several good tournaments since including a recent runner-up finish at the Open Championship. I like his chances of breaking through to win the major championship which must surely come his way before too long.
Lived up to the expectations of many with his victory at the Masters earlier in the year and has continued to play well despite a below standard effort last week at the Bridgestone. Has the belief now that he can win major championships and it would not surprise to see him contending once again.
The last few weeks have seen Kuchar not producing the amazingly consistent level of golf he was previously. He missed the cut at the Open Championship and again in Canada but there was some good golf last week in Ohio and it would not surprise to see him once again in contention again as he has been so often in the past twelve months.
Choi seemed to improve as the week went on last week in Ohio. The Players Championship winner is earlier in the season has missed only two cuts in eleven starts this season on the PGA Tour and has not only won at Sawgrass but finished runner-up at Arnomink. He is a tough grinding type of player and over this golf course that might just suit.
Twelve months ago Watson lost a playoff to Martin Kaymer in this very event. He has won twice on the PGA Tour since and although not quite as sharp of late he has done well enough for him to be a chance of replicating if not bettering his effort at Whistling Straits. He was solid enough last week in Ohio when 21st.
Karlsson has put together a lot of good tournaments wherever he has played over the past twelve months and despite not yet winning a major championship in his career has proven himself to be a good big event player. After a good start to last week’s WGC event he finished 17th and so enters this week with his game in good enough shape. He will likely be at longer odds but could be worth an each way bet.
Fowler has yet to win on the PGA Tour and winning a major in order to do so is a big task although several others have done so. He was very impressive last week in Ohio however when he tied for second and this week’s field is no stronger than that.
Garcia finished runner-up to Tiger Woods in his very first major championship in 1999 and many felt then that his first major victory was just a matter of time. It was but 12 years on it has still yet to happen. There have been countless signs in the past twelve months however that Garcia is approaching the level of golf and confidence that saw him so nearly win all that time ago. He has missed only one cut all year and although only average last week he is likely to improve sharply.
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