The contenders who hope to win this week’s 103rd PGA Championship at Kiawah Island had higher hope their huge sticks are prepared.
The Ocean Course will measure a whopping 7,876 yards, making it the longest course to ever host one among skilled golf’s 4 majors.
Rory McIlroy gained the earlier PGA Championship performed there, in 2012, working away with an 8-shot victory, the widest margin within the occasion’s historical past. After profitable the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks in the past, McIlroy is as soon as once more among the many favorites.
One other huge storyline: Jordan Spieth, who has resurrected his profession this season after a protracted stoop, will attempt to change into simply the sixth participant in historical past to finish the profession Grand Slam.
This is a have a look at the 156 gamers within the subject, together with the blokes who can win, the sleepers, the membership professionals and everybody in between:
Tier I: Guys who can win
Listed here are the reliable contenders. They’ve the sport, guts and nerves to deal with 4 pressure-packed rounds on what may be a really difficult golf course if the climate does not cooperate.
Lastly, he ended his 18-month drought and not using a victory at Quail Hole two weeks in the past. When he set the PGA Championship document with an 8-shot victory at Kiawah Island in 2012, he was 11 below over the ultimate two rounds.
The Spanish participant will not be speeding to this main from the supply room, as he did on the Masters in April. His spouse gave delivery to the couple’s first baby a couple of days earlier than Masters week. Nonetheless, Rahm completed tied for fifth, his sixth top-10 in his previous 12 majors. He has to win his first main championship quickly, proper?
The 2017 PGA Championship winner loves the robust selections that include taking part in a Pete Dye-designed course, as evidenced by his March victory on the Gamers Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Nonetheless, he’ll need to putt higher than he has currently.
After a four-year battle, Spieth has arguably been the very best story on tour this calendar yr, ending his winless drought on the Valero Texas Open in April after going 1,351 days between victories. He additionally completed tied for third on the Masters.
Aside from profitable the Masters, the South Carolina native would most likely like nothing greater than to win a significant in his residence state. He pulled out of final week’s begin on the AT&T Byron Nelson due to discomfort in his knee and hasn’t been himself since profitable a inexperienced jacket in November.
If it is not Rahm, Schauffele is arguably the very best participant on the planet and not using a victory in a significant. He got here painfully shut — once more — on the Masters in April, ending in a tie for third after his Sunday tee shot on the par-3 sixteenth went into the water. It was his eighth top-10 in 15 profession begins in majors.
It is no shock that DeChambeau leads the PGA Tour in driving distance, and size off the tee goes to be a should on the Ocean Course. (He simply wants his tee pictures to seek out the fairways). He completed tied for fourth at TPC Harding Park final yr, solely his second top-10 in 18 begins in majors; he gained the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot by 6 pictures.
Morikawa navigated sturdy winds on the California coast fairly effectively in profitable the 2020 PGA Championship in San Francisco. Now, he’ll attempt his luck in probably blustery situations on the alternative coast. One concern: He’s tied for one hundred and twenty fifth in driving distance.
The 23-year-old Norwegian participant hasn’t missed a lower in a significant as a professional (or newbie) and heads to Kiawah Island with critical momentum, having tied for third in every of his previous two begins, on the Valspar Championship and Wells Fargo Championship. He’s sixth in strokes gained: tee to inexperienced, one other promising signal.
Reed’s observe document on Dye tracks hasn’t been nice; he has by no means completed within the high 20 in seven begins at TPC Sawgrass and was tied for thirtieth on the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Nonetheless, his brief sport is so good that it would not be a shock if he is in rivalry.
In his first two begins in majors as knowledgeable, Zalatoris completed tied for sixth on the U.S. Open at Winged Foot and was runner-up on the Masters in April. No stage appears too huge for the 24-year-old, who’s already one of many sport’s finest ball strikers.
His observe document within the wind and uncanny contact across the greens will make him a contender if the climate will get dicey at Kiawah Island. He tied for fifth on the Masters in April after which teamed up with fellow Australian Cameron Smith to win the Zurich Traditional.
He completed in a tie for fourth at Harding Park, his first begin in a PGA Championship. As with many others, it will likely be his first aggressive spherical on the Ocean Course.
Aside from lacking the lower on the Masters, Berger has performed effectively this season, profitable at Pebble Seaside in February, one among his 9 top-25s in 14 tour begins. He took a month off earlier than tying for third on this previous week’s Byron Nelson.
Exterior of tying for tenth on the Masters (his eighth top-10 in his previous 12 begins in majors), Finau has cooled off significantly since March, lacking the lower most just lately on the Wells Fargo Championship. He tied for fourth at Harding Park, 3 pictures behind Morikawa.
The Englishman has completed most of his harm on the European Tour, the place he has had six victories since 2016. He additionally has performed effectively within the majors, with 5 top-10s. If situations get windy and tough, he’s higher outfitted to deal with it than most.
The Masters champion returned residence to Japan and spent two weeks in quarantine. He was honored by Japan’s prime minister earlier than returning to the U.S. to play within the Byron Nelson, the place he tied for thirty ninth. He admits he did not have a lot time to observe.
The 43-year-old English participant was tied for runner-up at Harding Park, ending 2 pictures behind Morikawa with 4 sub-70 rounds. He is seeking to change into the oldest first-time main champion since Roberto De Vicenzo of Argentina gained the 1967 Open Championship at 44.
The previous UCLA star arrives at Kiawah Island headed within the flawed route with missed cuts in every of his previous three stroke-play begins. He tied for third on the 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black.
Simpson pulled out of the Wells Fargo two weeks in the past, lacking a begin on his residence course, due to a neck damage. He has by no means completed greater than a tie for thirteenth within the PGA Championship.
The 2-time PGA Championship winner tried to play by way of a proper knee damage on the Masters in April and missed the lower. He made his first begin since then on the Byron Nelson, the place he once more missed the lower. He stated the knee feels higher, though he nonetheless cannot squat to learn putts and is struggling to get to his proper aspect.
Tier II: If the whole lot goes proper
Listed here are the sleeper candidates to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. The listing consists of earlier main champions, latest first-time winners and a few very gifted gamers who’re nonetheless trying to find their first wins within the U.S.
Kokrak gained his first PGA Tour occasion on the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek in October and has change into one of many sport’s finest putters. His driving distance and prowess on the greens would possibly make him a reliable darkish horse.
Niemann, from Chile, has missed the lower in 5 of his seven begins in majors, however his kind is trending in the suitable route, with 11 top-25s in 16 tour begins this season.
The previous two seasons have not been nice for the English golfer, however a tie for fifth on the WGC-Match Play and tie for 14th on the Wells Fargo present he may be turning his kind round. He is one other participant who is sweet in robust situations.
The Englishman is No. 17 within the Official World Golf Rating and appears to be getting nearer to breaking by way of at a significant; he has only one top-10 in his earlier 20 profession begins.
Smith’s finest end in a PGA Championship was a tie for twenty fifth in 2015. His work across the inexperienced and placing have been stellar. If he wins his first main championship, we’re betting he’ll lastly fulfill his girlfriend’s want and lower his mullet. OK, perhaps not.
A gap-round 65 led to a seventh-place end on the Masters in April, his solely top-10 on tour this season. He tied for third on the 2012 PGA Championship, ending 9 again of McIlroy.
The South African tied for second on the 2017 PGA Championship, which accomplished his profession runner-up “Grand Slam.”
He’s nonetheless trying to find his first PGA Tour victory however has performed remarkably effectively in majors on American soil, making the lower in every of his six begins. He is available in with momentum, after ending fifth on the Valspar Championship and solo second on the Wells Fargo Championship.
The South Korean golfer hasn’t performed notably effectively on the PGA Championship, lacking the lower in his earlier two begins after tying for forty second in 2018.
Scott has the benefit of being among the many gamers who competed within the 2012 PGA Championship, during which he tied for eleventh.
Woodland hasn’t completed a lot since profitable the 2019 U.S. Open at Pebble Seaside, however a solo fifth at Quail Hole was a promising signal.
If the wind whips off the Atlantic Ocean this week, the Irishman will really feel proper at residence. He survived completely terrible situations to win the 2019 Open Championship at Royal Portrush.
He tied for fourth at Harding Park, 3 pictures behind Morikawa. He would possibly miss a significant for the primary time because the 2012 Open Championship, although, due to the pending delivery of his fourth baby. His spouse is due in early June.
He is one of many longest hitters within the subject, and he is getting higher in majors. He tied for tenth on the 2020 PGA Championship, his finest end but at a significant.
There shall be loads of spots for Horschel to go barefoot and roll up his pant legs on the Ocean Course. (He has gone into the water to hit a shot greater than as soon as this yr). He made the lower in every of his previous seven begins within the PGA Championship.
The Canadian golfer has posted back-to-back top-10s on the Masters, the place second pictures are a premium. His accuracy off the tee will turn out to be useful at Kiawah Island.
The 48-year-old just lately gained the Seve Ballesteros Award for his efficiency on the European Tour in 2020. He is been fairly good within the U.S. this yr however he’s nonetheless looking for his first main championship victory.
Tier III: Hey, miracles occur
They’re the lengthy pictures. This tier features a handful of getting old former main champions and a few first-timers.
Si Woo Kim
Harold Varner III
Erik van Rooyen
Tier IV: Blissful to make the lower
They are not anticipated to be among the many contenders until one thing magical occurs.
Daniel van Tonder
Tier V: Previous champions
They’re right here solely as a result of they’ve already gained the Wanamaker Trophy, incomes the suitable to come back again and play, however their days of competing are within the rearview mirror.
Tier V: PGA professionals
These are the PGA professionals who earned exemptions into the sector by ending within the high 20 of final month’s PGA Skilled Championship.
Frank Bensel Jr.