PGA: The PGA Championship Preview

NERVES OF STEEL: Keegan Bradley won the PGA Championship last year on the third playoff hole.

This weekend at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South George will host the PGA Championship, the final Major of the PGA tour schedule.

The last real main event hosted at the Ocean Course was the 1991 Ryder Cup dubbed the ‘War by the Shore’. Consequently, the field is evened out a bit for this course as few players have spent much time on it.

The Ocean Course becomes the longest track in major championship history as it can be stretched out to 7,676 yards. Numerous tees are on every hole which means the setup each day is going to be different. Wind is going to play a big part as well because of the ocean-front property.

Put these two factors together and there can be up to an eight-club difference in shots from one day to the next.

Long hitters will have an advantage but not as big as with other long courses. The Ocean Course demands savvy course management that involves knowing where to miss. That makes solid ball strikers the favorites because they can avoid the most trouble with highly executed shots.

Also of note, the greens are surfaced with a Paspalum turfgrass known as OC03, which is something the players don’t often see. The grain-less grass may look slow but in reality can be lightning fast.

Trends & Notes: 

There have been 16 different winners in the last 16 majors. This is the longest streak ever.

Since 1993 there have been 15 different winners of the PGA Championship with only Tiger Woods (4) and Vijay Singh (2) being repeat winners.

The defending champion is Keegan Bradley (+2900) who won at Atlanta Athletic Club over Jason Dufner (+1900) on the third playoff hole. He had not won another tournament until just last week when he fired a final round 64 and took advantage of a Jim Furyk (+3900) meltdown on the final hole to take home the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.

Tiger Woods (+800) is a four-time winner of the PGA Championship, his last coming in 2007 at Southern Hills. Tiger is the favourite this weekend and is seeking his first major since the 2008 U.S. Open. He has three wins on tour this year and while some will say he is back to his old form, until his can collect his 15th major, there will be doubters.

Jason Dufner (+1900) could be the golfer to watch however, after narrowly missing out last year; and after a relatively slow start to the season, he has caught fire over the last three-plus months grabbing two wins, a runner-up and another top five. Dufner played well at the Masters prior to the weekend and had a T4 at the U.S. Open. He is coming off a seventh place finish at the Bridgestone.

Dustin Johnson (+1700) has quietly put together a solid year despite missing some time with a back injury. He has five top-ten finishes including a win at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and he has missed only one cut all year. Who can forget his triple bogey on the final hole at Whistling Straits that denied him a chance for the 2010 PGA Championship. The setup there and at the Ocean Course are very similar.

Steve Stricker (+2900) is one of the best players in the world without a major and while he hasn’t been a contender this year, this could be the one that sets up well for him. He is one of the best long iron hitters on tour and with the length of the Ocean Course, this will come in handy. Overall, his ball striking is average, which goes against how that is a big edge, but he can make up for that on the greens.

Hunter Mahan (+3900) has cooled off after a very strong start to the season. He has definitely fallen off the radar with only one top ten in his last 11 starts but he has missed only one cut over that stretch. He leads the tour in ball striking so any lack of contending over the last couple months can be negated with that stat which gives him a big edge on this course.

Long shots have won this major more than any other over the last couple decades and one that stands out this week is Bill Haas (+5400). Haas has a win already this year at the Northern Trust Open and is coming off consecutive T19′s, most recently last week at the Bridgestone. He has not had a top ten in a while but he has played well in the majors the last two years including a T12 at the PGA Championship last year.

Here is a complete list of the odds to win the PGA Championship on PlayNow Sports: