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2021 PGA Championship Preview

The 103rd enjoying of the PGA Championship will happen this week Kiawah Island Golf Resort.

There are loads of storylines brewing with probably the most outstanding being Jordan Spieth discovering his kind within the lead-up simply in time to try the Career Grand Slam. He wants a win on the PGA Championship to finish that quest. Rory McIlroy additionally simply snagged a win two weeks in the past, discovering his kind simply earlier than a return to the location of his 2012 PGA Championship win.

The most up-to-date version of this occasion was final fall at TPC Harding Park when Collin Morikawa placed on a present down the stretch to take residence the {hardware}.

This week, 156 golfers will begin the week with an eye fixed on the Rodman Wanamaker Trophy. In addition to the trophy, the winner will obtain a lifetime exemption into the PGA Championship, in addition to a five-year exemption on the PGA TOUR, and five-year exemption into all the different majors, sure even the fifth main (THE PLAYERS).

As a reminder to weekly players, the PGA of America is host this week so that they set up their very own tips. For the cutline, meaning the Top 70 and ties will slip by way of the cutline and play the weekend.

The Course

This week’s host venue is The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort. It is a Pete and Alice Dye creation with notable internet hosting duties on the 1991 Ryder Cup, 1997 World Cup of Golf, 2003 World Cup of Golf, and the 2012 PGA Championship. You might have additionally seen it when watching the movie, “The Legend of Bagger Vance.”

The course is a brute that stretches out to 7,876 yards from the ideas. That makes it the longest course in major-championship historical past, beforehand Erin Hills held that honor.

There is numerous sand however no bunkers. How is that attainable? They play them as “sandy areas” and gamers are in a position to floor their membership, transfer unfastened impediments, and take follow swings in the event that they discover themselves within the sand this week.

At first look, it may simply play the position of a hyperlinks course however if you actually dive in there are some key elements that forestall it from being a real hyperlinks take a look at.

First is the turf, it’s wall-to-wall paspalum with ryegrass tough. A real hyperlinks course goes to be agency and quick however this type of grass wants the right storm (or lack of storms, ought to I say) to play that method. A transfer from August to May ought to really assist in that regard however we’ll want to attend for pre-tourney pressers to know simply how agency and quick they can get it this week.

Second, most of the greens at The Ocean Course are elevated which prevents you from “playing it on the ground” AKA Grandpa Golf, which is one other key ingredient of true hyperlinks layouts.

That being stated, it does share visible properties of most hyperlinks programs and it is performed proper on the coast so golfers that play properly on hyperlinks programs should not be too out of their consolation zone this week. Just have a look at the leaderboard from the 2012 PGA Championship and you may see 5 names from GB&I ending at T7 or higher.

Speaking of that 2012 version, what did we see from a scoring perspective?

From a wide-lens view, we noticed the sphere play it to a median of 74.566 for the week which was the second-toughest occasion, relative-to-par, that season. It yielded a boatload of massive numbers, with the sphere averaging 3.02 doubles or worse, per 72 holes, for the week. That places it proper up there alongside programs like Shinnecock Hills, Chambers Bay, and Oakmont when it comes to programs which have yielded massive numbers not too long ago.

When we dive deeper we see that one spherical was the main reason for that troublesome scoring on the 2012 PGA Championship.

Scoring Average by Round on the 2012 PGA at Kiawah Island

R1: 73.29
R2: 78.09
R3: 72.75
R4: 71.65

Players have been greeted with 25 MPH+ winds on day two whereas the opposite days have been calmer and so they had softer circumstances for a lot of the week. They had a suspension of play on Saturday resulting from storms and the ultimate teams performed 27 holes on Sunday to complete the occasion.

It’s been a very long time since we have been right here final but when 2012 is any indication then the size of the course will likely be a speaking level however won’t be a real protection this week. Wind is the one approach to actually problem these execs this week so regulate the climate forecast within the lead-up to the occasion. TPC Harding Park had a area scoring common of +0.76 RTP and that’s additionally how the course performed in 2012 for those who eliminated Round 2 from the equation. That makes it a fairly respectable guess of what we must always anticipate this week until some wind actually whips by way of. With that, I’d peg the successful rating within the 10-to-14 underneath vary which can also be the place the winner has landed on this occasion in 4 of the final eight editions.

From a hole-by-hole overview, there are three par 3s over 205 yards. There are six par 4s over 480 yards. There are three par 5s over 575 yards. That means loads of mid-to-long irons and loads of scrambling alternatives as a result of even the perfect of the perfect are going to overlook their justifiable share of greens when they’re persistently approaching from outdoors of 180 yards.

Circling again on the turf, golfers will see seashore paspalum this week which is barely used for a number of occasions on the PGA TOUR schedule (Mayakoba Golf Classic, Puerto Rico Open, Corales). On the Euro Tour they play paspalum on the Saudi and Qatar occasions. Overall, you will have a tough time discovering a superb pattern dimension of paspalum efficiency for any of the superstars on this week’s area. As for the precise greens, they’re barely smaller than TOUR common at 6,000 sq. ft. Traditionally, paspalum greens do not often play as quick as bermuda or bent however it is a main championship and I’d anticipate them to ramp them up as quick as they’ll if the wind forecast permits it. Before the 2012 version, the superintendent had this to say, “You get much quicker than 11, the ball starts oscillating.” It’s attainable the developments in agronomy will enable speedier surfaces this time however general we must always anticipate comparatively slower inexperienced speeds, much like a conventional Open Championship throughout the pond.

Course Quotes

Sifting by way of some previous quotes, let’s attempt to break down the course to see the way it will play.

Ian Poulter: “It’s one of those types of courses if you have an extra 20, 30 yards, the par‑5s become very attractive, i.e., 2, 16 and so on. It’s one of those golf courses if you can carry a couple of those ridges, the par‑5s become almost a par‑4, really. I’m playing a lot of them as lay‑up par‑5s, and that’s tricky.” -2012

Phil Mickelson: “It’s very challenging and the reason I think is a couple of things. One, most every hole is a direct crosswind; and two, you’re not able to really play the ball on the ground here. You have to play it through the air, because the greens all repel off. You can’t really roll a shot up. That makes it difficult, because you have to play the ball through the air.” -2012

Tiger Woods: “Well, they are tricky to read because they are so straight. They don’t break much. And it’s different. I’m sure there’s a lot of guys making a lot of putts out there, but there’s no grain. That’s also another thing, too, is that we are accustomed to putting in the south like this, and you expect grain, but there’s really no grain here.” -2012

Adam Scott: “You certainly have to pick your moments to attack. There are only about three par 4s that you would call short and get a wedge in your hand; if you drive it well, you can hit a wedge into the green, and if you’re getting a wedge in your hand, you’re attacking. So the par 5s and those few par 4s where you could get a wedge is a chance to attack. The rest of the time, you never want to play defensive, especially on tough golf courses, but you just have to play smart and you have to pick your moments wisely and that’s what majors are all about.” -2012

Tiger Woods: “I think it’s, of anything that’s close would be Whistling Straits; the same architect being Pete. But again, played totally differently. A lot of mounding and a lot of movement in its designs. One of the things you learn about Pete’s golf courses, a lot of it is visual. There’s a lot more room out there, whether it’s on the fairways or on the greens, than you think. He just makes you look the other way. And he’s a masterful designer in that way.” -20125

Jeff Stone (course superintendent): ““You work with what Mother Nature is doing to your golf course. You can’t control it, it’ll drive you crazy. Mother Nature really changes the golf course every day. How this golf course changes in one year takes other golf courses five to seven years to change that much. It’s Mother Nature doing it, and she’s doing it 24/7.” -2021

Correlated Courses

Looking at grass types, geography, course attributes, and past performance, here are a few courses/events that I think could prove to be a good pointer this week:

TPC Sawgrass
Whistling Straits
PGA Championship Course Rota
Open Championship Course Rota
U.S. Open Course Rota
Torrey Pines South

It’s hard to find true comps for Kiawah Island but looking at historical success in other majors is a good starting point. I excluded Augusta National from that list since it’s the same venue and doesn’t require golfers to learn a new course every year. You could certainly add it to your list if you want to take the angle of strong-field events with relatively tough-to-hit greens. As you saw from above, Tiger pointed out Whistling Straits as a potential comp since they are both long, linksy-looking courses, that were designed by Pete Dye.

The Weather

Thursday: Sunny with a high of 79 degrees. Winds at 10 to 15 MPH.

Friday: Cloudy with a high of 81. Winds at 6 to 12 MPH.

The early-week wind forecast calls for steady but not significant wind speeds. That could certainly change over the next few days so keep an eye out because an extra 5 or 10 MPH would make a huge difference in the expected scoring environment this week.

Golfers to Watch

Jordan Spieth
He’s going for the Career Grand Slam and has said the PGA Championship is the toughest for him, due to the typical course setup. They are usually played on longer courses and favor the big hitters. Kiawah Island is certainly long but if you remove Rory from the equation in 2012, you would see a long list of “quick tits” lined up right behind him. The Texan has posted top 15s in seven of his last eigth stroke-play events including a T9 last week at the Byron Nelson where he was the first-round co-leader despite the lack of competitive reps in the lead-up.

Rory McIlroy
He’s the early-week betting favorite (+1100) and the defending champ at Kiawah Island. Obviously his form is not an issue since he arrives with a win in his most recent start, the Wells Fargo Championship. It’s funny to see how quickly the sentiment shifts, though, since he looked lost with back-to-back missed cuts before that in addition to making some swing changes and “beginning a brand new journey.”

Daniel Berger
Is final-round momentum a thing? Berger backers certainly hope so as he tidied a closing 64 yesterday to backdoor a podium finish at the Byron Nelson. He struggled early in his career at the PGA Championship (MC-T73-MC) but has landed top 15s in two of his last three tries.

Will Zalatoris
He’s quickly establishing himself as a big-game hunter with a T6 at the U.S. Open and a runner-up finish at the Masters, two of his three best finishes on TOUR. Now he arrives off a career-best approach week at the Byron Nelson (+9.5 SG: Approach).

Xander Schauffele
While Zalatoris is starting to establish himself as a big-game hunter, we can’t forget about this big-game hunter. Schauffele has top 20s in 10 of his 14 majors played. That includes a T3 just two starts ago at the Masters.

Dustin Johnson
Comes in with some knee concerns so you’ll want to hear what he has to say in his pre-tournament press conference. A healthy and in-form DJ would be right up there with Rory on the odds board so if you are getting a bit of a discount this week, but for good reason since he arrives with finishes outside of the top 45 in each of four of his last five stroke-play events. He is one of the few superstars in the field with recent tournament experience on paspalum, finishing 2nd at the 2020 Saudi and wining the 2021 edition.

Viktor Hovland
While he may not be in the “famous person” category yet, he is certainly lurking and could be vaulted into that category with a major title. So far he has snapped out finishes of T13-T33-T12-T32 in his four majors played. He arrives with two straight third-place finishes and has some past success on paspalum, as well. Both of his PGA TOUR title have come on paspalum (2020 Puerto Rico Open and 2020-21 Mayakoba) and he finished T6 at the Saudi back in February.

Ranking the Field

1. Xander Schauffele
2. Jon Rahm
3. Viktor Hovland
4. Justin Thomas
5. Bryson DeChambeau
6. Jordan Spieth
7. Rory McIlroy
8. Daniel Berger
9. Dustin Johnson
10. Collin Morikawa
11. Will Zalatoris
12. Tony Finau
13. Tyrrell Hatton
14. Paul Casey
15. Patrick Reed
16. Matthew Fitzpatrick
17. Cameron Smith
18. Patrick Cantlay
19. Tommy Fleetwood
20. Hideki Matsuyama

Editor’s Note: Don’t neglect to obtain the NBC Sports EDGE app to obtain real-time participant information and updates. Plus, it means that you can simply monitor your favourite gamers. Get it here!

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