With sports finally back in full swing, the first major championship for golf in 2020 is here. The PGA Championship will be held at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, CA, a 7,251-yard par 70 course that will host its first major championship ever.
However, the course has been made much more difficult for the championship this week. The fairways have been narrowed by close to 40%, and the rough is nearly ankle high, so the big bombers may face some trouble here.
But who really has the best chance?
The two-time defending champion has struggled coming out of the restart, but his first round at the WGC-St. Jude last week proved that he isn’t going anywhere.
On a course where players need to be accurate, Koepka may need to put away his big stick and opt for irons off the tee. He hit just 57% of fairways last week, and he will have to improve on that to succeed on the tightened fairways at Harding Park, but his outing at TPC Southwind illustrated that he is still a force to be reckoned with.
Newly minted world number-one Justin Thomas will arrive at Harding Park fresh off a 3-stroke victory last week, where he bogeyed just 6 holes and hit 51 greens in regulation. With the narrowed fairways this week, his 70% driving accuracy will put him in a good spot to contend for his second PGA Championship.
Bryson DeChambeau came out of the restart guns blazing (literally, he gained some serious muscle during the lockdown). It’s no surprise, therefore, that he’s been given the second-best odds coming into the week. His meticulous scientific approach will be put to the test at Harding Park, and he may just walk away with his first major.
Arguably the most famous athlete in all of sports and the best to ever pick up a golf club, Tiger completed a historic comeback last year at the Masters.
However, Tiger has struggled since the restart, playing in just one tournament (the Memorial Tournament), where he turned in a top-40 finish. But one cannot forget that his last time out at Harding Park, he edged John Daly in a playoff to win the WGC-American Express Invitational. As always, Tiger cannot be taken for granted, but his recent form suggests his chances are low.
The Wonder Boy looked to be the Tiger Woods of the new generation of golfers, winning 3 majors in 11 starts from 2015 to 2017. Since, however, Spieth has struggled, but his magic is still in there.
After lockdown, he came out firing at the Charles Schwab, holding the lead for some time during the weekend. While he may not be a likely contender, don’t count on Spieth not bringing his magic out to secure the career grand slam.
Various others have a chance for the title. These include Collin Morikawa (35-1), the 23-year-old phenom who won the Workday Charity Open three weeks ago, and Rickie Fowler (40-1), arguably the best golfer of this generation without a major title. Big hitters Rory McIlroy (14-1) and Dustin Johnson (20-1) will also have a strong chance at contending if they can keep hitting fairways.
All in all, this week’s PGA Championship is going to be one to watch. The wait is finally over.
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