PGA Championship Preview

The 2015 PGA Championship

It was announced on Friday night that Rory McIlroy will be back to defend his PGA Championship title at Whistling Straits this coming week, but whether he’ll be match ready will be anyone’s guess after missing about 7 weeks due to his soccer-related ankle ligament injury. Apparently, he wanted to play last week in the Bridgestone, but his trainer wasn’t happy with that. His return will definitely take some media heat away from Jordan Spieth and his own incredible year! DJ Dustin Johnson returns to the scene of his (huge) Rules blunder in the last PGA Championship held there in 2010 when he grounded his club in what he thought were waste areas on the final hole, but it turned out to be a bunker. His golfing ability is undoubted, but his ability to close a tournament is in serious doubt at the moment after the 3-putt on the ultimate hole at the US Open and a weekend collapse from a seemingly untouchable position at St Andrews must have him wondering more and more in disbelief.

The Course

Whistling Straits is a Pete Dye creation in Kohler, Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Michigan – it’s another links-like US major for this year, in fact it will look more like the surface of the moon, this one with about (they’re not exactly sure) 1000 bunkers! To put it in perspective, Houghton has 63! The exact bunker that cost DJ his 2-shot penalty has actually been covered up by a grandstand this time around in an effort to enhance spectator viewing experiences. Have a look at these 2 pics below of the two par 3’s at #7 and #17. Looks like there’s no place to miss, and pretty much the entire course treats wayward shots very harshly. Look out for a few very high scores. I just hope there’s some greenery to the place and that it doesn’t look so dry and burnt out like Chambers Bay was.

 
7th Hole
 
17th Hole

 

The Contenders

It looks like the usual suspects are still playing well and will all be in contention. The favourite must be Jordan Spieth, trying to win 3 Majors in a year to be only the 3rd person ever to do so after Ben (1953) and Tiger (2000). Jason Day – surely his day must be coming soon – and Justin Rose and a couple of others in form this year like Bubba and Shane Lowry, plus some outsiders like Danny Lee, David Lingmerth, Kevin Na and Robert Streb. Watching Lowery win the WGC Bridgestone was wonderful golf. He’s apparently got the best hands in the game; blessed with one of the best short games around, and it was in full view the entire weekend. His up and down on the penultimate hole was probably the turning point of the tournament, but his (lucky) shot that just nicked some trees and settled to about 12 feet on the final hole for the complete win was the shot of the week.And Jim Furyk will also be somewhere around the 1st page of the leaderboard, as should a now healthy Henrik Stenson.

The Coverage

As always, I really enjoyed listening to the CBS commentary team of Gary McCord and David Feherty –together with Peter Kostis, Nick Faldo, Ian Baker-Finch and Jim Nantz – during the Bridgestone event. Those 2 are undoubtedly the most naturally funny men around, and you have to listen closely otherwise you’ll miss a lot of their throw-away lines.

Just a couple of chirps from McCord were calling the thick rough that one Pro found himself in “smellyville”, and whilst watching Jason Day contemplating a punch under trees from the wrong fairway and one of the others asked him (McCord) how he would play the shot, he answered that he’d chip it out sideways, wedge it onto the green and then 3-jack it for a double! Damn, I wish I could be as funny as them!

And after the Open Championship, I much prefer them to the BBC’s Peter Alliss, the guy who during a fairly tense time of a tournament will “just have to thank Mrs Elizabeth Boddington-Smythe from down in Kent who just had to send us a mail to let us know that she was watching the Open on her mobile whilst pruning her roses with the kukri blade that her late grandfather the Sergeant-Major took off a dead British Indian Army Ghurka at the top of the Khyber Pass late in the Battle of Ali Masjid in 1878.” I mean, have you ever heard such unrelated and unadulterated crap?

Good news is that CBS are in attendance next week at Whistling Straits.
As usual, I can’t wait for this last Major of the year.

Richard Kaplan
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Richard Kaplan

Head Professional at Houghton Golf Club
Richard had a decorated amateur career during the 1980s, which included winning the English Men’s Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship (Brabazon Trophy) in 1986 and the Southern Transvaal Open Strokeplay in 1984. He also earned his Springbok colours four times.

Kappy turned professional in 1986 and won for the first time on the Sunshine Tour in 1995. He added three more tour wins between then and 2000. His best year-end finish on the Order of Merit was 9th in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

Kappy has also competed on the Asian Tour where, in 1996, he won the Royal Thai Classic and finished in the top 20 on the Order of Merit.
Richard Kaplan
Follow Kappy

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