95th PGA Championship
Oak Hill Country Club
Oak Hill Country Club
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; Poa annua; 4,500 square feet on average.
Rough: Kentucky bluegrass; fescue starting at 4”
Water Hazards: 2
Course Architects: Donald Ross (1926); Re-design Tom Fazio (2011)
Winner’s Share: $1,440,000 and the Wanamaker Trophy
FexExCup Points: 600 to the winner
Defending Champion: Rory McIlroy blew away the field to win his second major and his second major by eight shots as he dominated at Kiawah Island. David Lynn finished as runner-up.
Dates: August 8-11
Notes: The field will consist of 156 players of which will consist of 136 touring pros and 20 club professionals. Matt Jones and David Mathis were the last two players added to the field as of Monday morning. Please check Rotoworld.com for field updates throughout the week.
Tiger Woods is the only player to defend his stroke-play championship and he’s done it twice, 1999-2000 and 2006-2007.
Tiger Woods is the last player on TOUR to win the week immediately preceding a major that has gone on to win the major the following week. He won the WGC-BI and the PGA in 2007. Phil Mickelson won a European Tour event, The Scottish Open, before winning at Muirfield last month. #anythingyoucandoicandobetter?
Only 10 international players have won this event in the previous 94 editions. Yet, four of the last five winners at this event have been internationals as Padraig Harrington (2008), Y.E. Yang (2009), Martin Kaymer (2010) and Rory McIlroy (2012) have all been victorious. Only Keegan Bradley (2011) prevented the recent sweep.
Speaking of Keegan Bradley, he’s the only player to win a major in his first appearance. Ben Curtis (British Open) and Francis Ouimet (U.S. Open) are the only players to win majors in their first appearances, ever.
Since 1930, only three Euros have won the PGA, 2008, 2010 and last year. See above for the winners. I guess we’ll have to wait until 2014 for another one…
Only Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Padraig Harrington have won multiple majors since the Padraig Harrington won the 2008 Open and 2008 PGA back-to-back. In the last 19 majors, 15 winners have been first-timers. Only Angel Cabrera, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson have multiple championships.
The PGA Championship changed to 72-hole stroke-play in 1958.
Rory McIlroy holds the record for the largest margin of victory, eight shots, after his victory last year at Kiawah Island.
David Toms has the lowest winning total, 265, at the Atlanta Athletic Club in 2001.
Tiger Woods and Bob May both fired 18-under-par at Valhalla in 2000 to set the lowest score in relation to par for the Championship.
Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus have won five PGA Championships, the most ever. Tiger Woods has four.
The best-ever finish for a club professional was T3 by Tommy Bolt in 1971. Go ahead and cross them ALL off your list. Mike Small will make the cut, though.
Julius Boros was 48 when he won the 1968 title and is the oldest winner.
Gene Sarazen was 20 when he won in 1992 to secure youngest-ever honors.
Hubert Green and Phil Mickelson have waited the longest to win the PGA. They each won on their 13th attempt.
Only eight of the 94 winners have won the PGA on their first attempt. BobTway (1986), John Daly (1991), Shaun Micheel (2003) and Keegan Bradley (2011) have been the only players to do this since medal play was introduced in 1958.
Lee Westwood (62), Miguel Angel Jiminez (61), Sergio Garcia (60) and Steve Stricker (59) have started the most majors without capturing a victory.
There have been 34 tournaments this season. The Stars and Stripes have won 28 of them.
There have been 11 first-time winners this season and just four players with multiple victories (Woods, Mickelson, Kuchar and Snedeker).
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson, D (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FIVE times (37), Mickelson (42) TWICE, Snedeker (32) TWICE, Merrick (30) Kuchar TWICE (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22), Bae (26), Weekley (39) English (23), Rose (32), Duke (44) Haas (31), Blixt (29), Austin (49), Woodland (29) and 19-year old Jordan Spieth. The young folks (30 and younger) now have 13 victories; the 30-somethings have racked up 16 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) now have FIVE wins. The Mechanic was smoking this week as he racked up T4 for the “old” folks.
Rank and File
Of the 100 top-ranked players in the OWGR, 99 are participating this week. Only Louis Oosthuizen is out because of injury. Nice field!
For the third time in its exquisite history, the PGA Championship finds the East Course at Oak Hill as the final exam for the final major of the professional golfing season. Only Southern Hills in Tulsa has hosted more PGA Championships, four, than this Donald Ross masterpiece that will surely test every club in the bag and every brain cell between the ears of today’s modern professional.
Oak Hill has also been the site of the 1949 and 1998 U.S. Amateur, the 1956, 1968 and 1989 U.S. Open, the 1984 Senior U.S. Open, 2008 Senior PGA Championship the 1980 and 2003 PGA Championship and the 1995 Ryder Cup so this tree-lined masterpiece has seen its share of great champions. Cary Middlecoff, Lee Trevino and Curtis Strange claimed the national championship. Jack Nicklaus and Shuan Micheel outlasted the fields at the PGA. Jay Haas and Miller Barber lifted the trophies on the senior side. The one outstanding fact is in seven major stroke-play events, only 10 players have finished the tournament under-par. Jay Haas was not one of them as he was victorious by posting seven-over-par 287 in his triumph. Miller Barber was six-over. Buckle up the chinstraps as this could get nasty!
Oak Hill was created by legendary designer Donald Ross and has been modified over the course of time but the majority of his characteristics still prevail almost 100 years later. Fairways will be tough to hit; green complexes will be difficult to navigate and sometimes the trained eye will not be enough to see. Scoring on this 7,163 layout will happen on holes few and far between and the professional who can pick and choose his moments to execute THOSE shots will be amply rewarded.
The tee shot at Oak Hill will set the tone for this week’s winner. Players who are known to spray it off the tee will be scrambling for pars and bogeys all week long. The players who find the fairways and can properly judge their approach shots will be the ones left standing on Sunday. Ross has created difficult driving shapes and once in the fairway, hitting the correct part of the green is the next step of this examination. There will be holes to attack and ones to simply take the medicine and move on. Par will be an excellent score, as it should be in a major, again this week. Scoring chances on the front nine will consist of holes Nos. 2, 4, 6 and eight. On the back, Nos. 12-16 will be the better chances to snag a few birdies. With only two par-fives, players must take advantage of those scoring opportunities to off-set some of the more difficult par-threes and the two-hole closing stretch. Not everyone is going to stick it to two inches like Shaun Micheel coming home on No. 18
Keep in mind that Tiger Woods 70.22 and Phil Mickelson 70.99 have the two lowest scoring averages (minimum 25 rounds) in PGA history. Shocking development. #notreally
The winner this week will be able to grind out pars by getting up and down and hitting more fairways and greens than they miss. Sounds easy, right? I’m looking at experienced players, both physically and mentally that can handle this abuse for 72 holes. Of course, there will always be a surprise or three that sneak up on the leaderboard come the weekend but the winner won’t be come Sunday. He’ll have earned the 2013 Wannamaker Trophy, no questions asked.
Tiger Woods: After last week’s performance at a course he’s absolutely owned, Woods should be in the perfect frame of mind entering the week at Oak Hill. His temperament and game were buoyed by his stunning 61 on Friday but his recent weekend pitfalls were avoided as Saturday and Sunday played out. A seven-shot lead can relax the most stringent competitor! His weekend performance was a reminder that it’s still there; he can close out when he has a lead and that confidence cannot possibly hurt the best ball-striker and putter in this week’s field.
Phil Mickelson: Just close enough to smell the roses and touch the trophy, Mickelson will have another chance this week to bag his second major in a season at Oak Hill. His form has been nothing short of otherworldly but he’ll have to convince himself again that driver is not the answer this week. His wedge and short-game flourished at Muirfield, saving more shots than conceding, and he’ll need that same formula once again to win his second Wannamaker Trophy. The formula didn’t work at Merion but succeeded in a big way at Muirfield. I can’t wait to see what is NOT in the bag this week. He’ll be encouraged by his T21 last week at a course he generally doesn’t play well at so I have no problem making him second choice.
Henrik Stenson: He’s done everything but win in his last three starts (T3, 2nd, T2) worldwide so the Swede is brimming with confidence this week on a course that fits his game perfectly. Keeping the ball in the fairway off of the tee is a massive advantage this week as is keeping the ball on the green and Stenson excels at both of those facets. He also led the field in scrambling through 63 holes last week at Firestone so that’s another confidence boost entering the week as well.
Zach Johnson: He’s peaking at the perfect time to add a Wannamaker Trophy to his green jacket. Johnson has made half of his 1.8 million in prize money in his last three starts as he’s racked up finishes of P2, T6 and T4 last week. You can argue the P2 at the JDC was against a pre-major field but you cannot make that same argument when he was T6 at The Open Championship at T4 last week at the WGC-BI. Johnson also has no problem hitting fairways and greens and will make a few putts as well. He’s thought himself around a major championship victory before and can rely on that experience again this week.
Adam Scott: It seems like he only tees it up in the big events on TOUR and seems to play outstandingly well in most of them. There’s no wonder why as he’s 10th in ball-striking and 14th in total driving. His putter is usually the difference between really good and great. In his last seven majors, he has six finishes in the top 15, including first, second and third.
Keegan Bradley: Major championships are a test of every facet of the game and Bradley currently sits No. 3 in the all-around ranking. He hits it a mile and finds plenty of fairways and has shown the nerve to handle big courses under big pressure in the past. He’s coming off finishes of T15 (The Open) and T2 last week and won this event in 2011 in his maiden voyage.
Ernie Els: I love the Big Easy on hard, challenging layouts. His demeanor and experience is second-to-none and he knows par is a good score. He can rely on his experience here in 2003 when he finished T5 and his worst round was 71 (71-70-70-71). He’ll embrace the challenge of the difficulty while others will fight it. This is more U.S. Open than PGA for me so I think Els factors greatly this week.
Lee Westwood: He’s now played in 62 of these without a victory but that doesn’t mean he’s less valuable this week. Here’s another player that I always endorse on the harder courses because, like Els, he gets that par is a very good score. His entourage is growing as he now has a putting coach and a sport psychologist on the team on top of the swing coach. In his last 14 majors, he’s MC twice and finished in the top 16 ELEVEN times. Want more proof? Five of those finishes were seconds or thirds. Stop overthinking it.
Hunter Mahan: I cannot leave out the only player that has played in the final group in the last two majors even though he fired 75 on both of those Sundays. I worry about having to jump back into things in a major but it’s not like he was struggling before his wife gave birth. He bounced back from The Open 75 to light up Glen Abbey 67-64 before his wife went into labor. Getting to Rochester early will get him some sleep and plenty of time to hone in his already sharp game. It’s time to cash in on his excellent form if you haven’t already.
Justin Rose: He admitted last week that four rounds at Akron was exactly what his game needed before heading to Oak Hill this week. Rose, like Scott, is usually lightly raced throughout the summer as the majors command all of their efforts and attention. If his performance on the tight Merion setup is any indication, Rose should be licking his chops on another ball-striker’s paradise. He’s second on TOUR in scoring average, sand saves, total driving and 15th in scrambling.
Matt Kuchar: In his last 15 majors, Kuchar has made 13 cuts and has never finished worse than T28. He also has five top 10s in that stretch. Kuchar has proven he can win on tight courses with his win at the THE PLAYERS and his solid play at the U.S. and British Opens.
Brandt Snedeker: He’s rolling 2013 with two wins, two second and a third and his finishes in the majors are T6, T17 and T11. His newfound accuracy off the tee and into greens combined with his short game mastery has led to a career-season that shows NO SIGNS of slowing down as the Playoffs approach.
Jason Dufner: This might be a bit of a reach in a field with 99 of the top 100 players but Dufner has posted his two best finishes of the year in his last four events. I also like the fact that he’s closed well, 67, on Sundays in his last two majors. Some would argue that Sunday on a major should be the toughest round of the tournament and Dufner has torched it twice. He’s made eight cuts on the bounce in the majors as well and destroys par-fours.
Ian Poulter: After posting four top 10s in his last seven majors, I’m giving Poulter a look here this week as he usually ratchets it up a notch or two in big events. He’s another player who holds more value when par is an excellent score as opposed to a birdie-fest because his short game bails him out more than most players. You saw his go-for-broke last year at Kiawah and this year at Muirfield so you know you’re never out of it with him on a Sunday.
Bill Haas: He’s 0-2 in his last two majors this season but has surrounded that disappointment with a victory, T7 and T9. He’s fourth in par-four performance and that’s because his ball-striking and short game is excellent. He’s won the TOUR Championship; He’s won on TOUR for the last four years. The only thing he’s missing on his resume is a major finish in a major (0 top 10s in 16 events). It’s coming.
Jason Day: Speaking of performances in majors, Jason Day seems to save his best performances for the biggest events. Day has recently struggled, by his standards, as his only top 10 finishes in his last nine events are the Masters (3rd) and the U.S. Open (2nd). It’s hard to leave out a 26-year-old that has five top 10s in 12 major starts.
Jim Furyk: After his T9 at the RBC Canadian was backed by another T9 last week in a much deeper field, I have no problem taking a look at Furyk, again, this week. I also like that Oak Hill is more “U.S. Open” than PGA so that also will help Furyk’s strengths of driving the golf ball and pegging GIR. Furyk finished T18 here in 2003 as well so that won’t disturb his confidence. He’s a shrewd play this week.
Steve Stricker: The “hamstring scare” last week was much ado about nothing as Stricker opened with 71 but found room for 67 on Friday and 69 on Sunday to finish T13. Stricker has made the cut in 45 of 59 majors over the years and his excellent driving of the golf ball, iron play and putting is the main reason why. His lightened load of 2013 should see him fresh and raring to go for this week and the Playoffs.
Sergio Garcia: He’s all-or-nothing in the PGA of late. In his last seven appearances Garcia has MC four times but has finished T12 in 2011, T2 in 2008 and T3 in 2006. His solid tee-to-green game and improved putter make him a threat and he found something last Sunday as he posted a final round 68 at Firestone South.
Dustin Johnson: Here’s another player who has won in tough conditions on tough courses will small greens (Pebble Beach, TPC Southwind, Plainfield (Donald Ross course). Johnson was right in the hunt in Canada before he blew a tee shot on the 71st tee box OB. Johnson was right in the mix at the 2011 Open Championship before he blew a shot OB. Johnson led the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble before he blew a tee shot or three into bushes. Johnson led the 2010 PGA on the 72nd tee before grounding his club in a “sand trap” and being assessed a two-shot penalty and missing out on a playoff. His pedigree helps more than his current form.