OFTENTIMES logic goes out the window when trying to pick a winner of the year’s final major – the US PGA Championship.
Still, if you listen to logic then Germany’s Martin Kaymer and Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy are the players of choice.
In June, Kaymer captured the US Open and a month earlier won the Players’ Championship.
Rory, well, he’s a class act. This year he won the BMW PGA Championship, The Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone and has missed just one cut in 22 starts on the US and European tours.
More importantly, both players are former world number ones and have already lifted the Wanamaker Trophy – Kaymer in 2010 and McIlroy in 2012.
Kaymer this year has missed just three cuts playing in the US and Europe and, at the time of writing, was eighth on the US PGA Tour money list with more than $4m and €1.6 on the European Tour.
So, logic points to Kaymer or McIlroy winning the 98-year-old US PGA Championship at Valhalla GC, Louisville from August 7-10.
If Kaymer does win, he’ll become only the fifth player to win the US Open and the PGA in the same year joining Gene Sarazen (1922), Ben Hogan (1948), Jack Nicklaus (1980) and Tiger Woods (2000).
Will it happen? Before you answer, consider this:
The US PGA Championship has developed a trend of producing first-time winners and many one-only major winners.
Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem, David Toms, Davis Love III, Mark Brooks, Steve Elkington, Wayne Grady, Paul Azinger, Jeff Sluman and Bob Tway all broke the major barrier by winning the US PGA Championship and no other major.
Look for it to happen again at Valhalla site of Tiger’s second PGA title (2000) and Mark Brooks’ one and only major (1996).
Will the Jack Nicklaus-designed Valhalla layout favour some players and not others?
The golf course is long (7458 yards or 6820 metres) and suits right-handed players who play a high fades.
So maybe forget lefties Phil and Bubba.
They say if you are good enough, you’re old enough so perhaps the talented Jordan Spieth, at 21, could triumph.
He has the talent and all the attributes to conquer Valhalla, but look for an established player who has been around the traps.
Sergio Garcia, still trying to shed the “best player not to have won a major”, comes to mind. And he is certainly in form. But he’s not as logical as Kaymer or Rory or Adam Scott or Justin Rose.
If not Sergio, perhaps 35-year-old American Jimmy Walker, who has won three times this season and is atop the Fed-Ex standings, and third on the US PGA money list.
He’s had eight top-10s in 22 starts and has banked more than $5m.
Perhaps more logical than the Spaniard.
Matt Kuchar (Inside Golf editor Richard Fellner’s perennial favourite) must come into calculation.
He has had top-10s in all the majors in recent times (barring the recent Open) and has won 11 times on tour banking more than $30m. The man’s a walking ATM.
He’s had ten top-10s this year including a win at the RBC Heritage, but he’s ranked 147th in driving distance so draw a line through his name (sorry Richard).
Henrik Stenson is also a logical choice. Third last year, Stenson has three top-5s in nine appearances.
But consider Garcia’s record compared to others seeking their first major.
Sergio is long enough off the tee, is sixth on tour in greens hit in regulation and first in scoring averages. In 12 events on tour this year, he has had eight top-10s including three seconds and two third place finishes.
And he’s in fine form after the Open Championship and the WGC Bridgestone.
So if you go with the logic, it’ll be Spain’s Sergio García Fernández who lifts the Wanamaker Trophy, but not before he beats Henrik Stenson and Rory McIlroy in the playoff.
Aussies in the field include:
Adam Scott (QLD), the World Number 2, will play the PGA Championship for the 13th time, he has played every year since 2001. In his previous 12 appearances he has made the cut 10 times with his best finish being T3 in 2006, he has recorded a further three top-10 finishes including a T5 last year. Scott has an opportunity to regain the World Number 1 position this week.
Jason Day (QLD) will play the PGA Championship for the fifth time. In his previous four appearances he has made the cut twice, each time finishing in the top-10.
Marc Leishman (VIC) will play the PGA Championship for the fourth time. In his previous three appearances he has made the cut all three times with his best finish being a T12 last year. Leishman earned a place in the field for being one of the 15 lowest scorers in the 2013 PGA Championship.
Matt Jones (NSW) will play the PGA Championship for just the third time. In his previous two appearances he has made the cut just once finishing T40 last year. He earned his placed in the field by being inside the top-70 on the PGA TOUR’s Official money standings from the 2013 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational to the 2014 RBC Canadian Open.
John Senden (QLD) will play the PGA Championship for the ninth time. In his previous eight appearances he has made the cut five times with his best finish being a T4 in 2007. Senden earned a place in the field by being inside the top-70 on the PGA TOUR’s Official money standings from the 2013 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational to the 2014 RBC Canadian Open.
Steven Bowditch (QLD) will make his PGA Championship debut this year. He earned his placed in the field by being inside the top-70 on the PGA TOUR’s Official money standings from the 2013 WGC – Bridgestone Invitational to the 2014 RBC Canadian Open.
Geoff Ogilvy (VIC) will play the PGA Championship for the 12th time. In his previous 11 appearances he has made the cut eight times with his best finish being a T6 in 2005 and 2007. In 2006 he also finished inside the top-10. Ogilvy earned a place in the field by winning the Barracuda Championship on the PGA TOUR last week.
Stuart Deane (QLD) will make his PGA Championship debut this year. An Australian PGA Professional living and working in the US as a Club Pro, he earned his placed in the field by being one of the 20 low scoreers in the 2014 PGA Professional National Championship.
PGA CHAMPIONSHIP TEE TIMES (Australia Times)
ROUND 1 & 2