The PGA Championship: Preview

The PGA Championship will be played at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course, declared the most difficult in America by Golf Digest.

This will be the second time the PGA Championship is at this challenging venue, previously held here in 2012. That particular event was a very one-sided contest with Rory McIlroy winning by a massive eight strokes.  

Par may suffice

The winner of the PGA Championship is going to have to score heavily on the front nine, and hold on through the back. The Ocean Course is the longest on tour, which is made even longer due to the wind. Based on the 2012 statistics, the back nine was played in two-over-par, and four of the finishing six holes were ranked the hardest. In fact, the 18th was the second-hardest finishing hole of the season, in 2012. 

Home advantage?

As previously mentioned, the last time the PGA Championship came to Kiawah Island, Rory McIlroy won by eight strokes.

Having recently ended his 18-month wait for a win, he could take the title again. In that particular event, five of the top six finishers were European, with American Keegan Bradley sneaking in.

Funnily enough, no American lead at the end of any round, with only one home nation player in the top five at any point. One major reason could be the links-style of the course, which is more common to the European Tour, than the PGA. However, the last five PGA Championships have been won by Americans. 

Sorry, who is that? 

For many people, the name Garrick Higgo won’t mean anything, but the young South African has been in fantastic form coming into the PGA Championship.

In his last four tournaments, the 23-year-old has won twice, and finished T-4 and T-8. He is on a run of 15 consecutive under-par rounds, which equate to a score of seventy-six under par (-76). Expect a challenge if his nerves don’t get the better of him. 

Keep the ball in play

The winner this week will need to be consistent off the tee, and attack the greens. The fairways and greens were described as “sticky” in 2012, and it is likely to play the same this time round, too. Being a big hitter will not necessarily be an advantage – and never really is at the PGA Championship or US Open – unless you make the fairways. 

Enter defending champ, Colin Morikawa. 

Morikawa is ranked 8th in driving accuracy, 6th in greens-in-regulation, but T-125 in driving distance. Plus, he took last week off to go and learn about the PGA Championship course. If he plays to his potential, and navigates around the hazards well, it could be tough to beat him. 

Expect the likes of Billy Horschel, Marc Leishman, Jordan Spieth and Daniel Berger to go well, too. 

Speeding up play

In a bid to speed up play, the PGA of America has announced the use of range finders allowed on the course to spot distances.

The PGA of America is the first major governing body to introduce measuring distance devices in its premier event at the 103rd PGA Championship.

This decision has come with a lot of negative feedback from players who have said it will not speed up play and will have no effect in the way they will set up for a shot.

The fans will witness a lot of double, triple and maybe even a quadruple-bogey this week, which is going to make for a truly remarkable tournament, from the first tee-shot on Thursday to the last putt on Sunday. 

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