Nicknamed "Glory's Last Shot" for its position as the final major tournament of the year, the PGA Championship will be held this Thursday-Sunday at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in Kiawah Island, SC.
Here are 10 things you need to know, and to keep in mind, while watching this weekend:
1. The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island will play more like a US Open course.
In 2010, the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island was named the toughest course in America by Golf Digest. A seaside course, 10 of its fairways are located right on the shore, most of any course in the Northern Hemisphere, so the golfers will battle troublesome, shifting winds all weekend. This is the first major being hosted by the course, besides the Senior PGA Championship in 2007. The course also hosted the Ryder Cup in 1991, mere months after being opened; the United States won 14.5-13.5 after Bernhard Langer missed a 6-foot par putt to clinch a tie.
2. PGA Championship victors get a trophy with an awesome name and lots of other cool stuff.
When I started writing this list, I said to myself, "I wanna make a Wanamaker pun." So I did, twice now. Anyway, the PGA Championship, like the other three major tournaments, is a lucrative tourney to win. Besides getting the Wanamaker trophy for a year and a smaller-sized replica to keep, winners take home a huge chunk of the tournament purse (last year, Keegan Bradley won over $1.4 million); a lifetime invitation to the PGA Championship; five-year exemptions from qualifying for the Masters, the U.S. Open, British Open and The Players Championship; and a renewal of Tour card for five years.
3. In three Saturday rounds and three Sunday rounds of majors this year, Tiger Woods hasn't shot a round better than 70.
Yet he's still the odds-on favorite to win his fifth PGA Championship, at 7/1. Can we just please face that Tiger's not back? He's just barely contended -- "lurked," as announcers love to put it -- in all the majors this year, but just couldn't cut it after making the cut. The Open Championship was the only major he's truly contended in this year, after opening with a pair of 67s, but he finished 70-73. It's a shame to see that when "other" crowd favorite Phil Mickelson struggles, he's put at 40/1 odds, and when Woods struggles, Vegas turns a blind eye.
4. Defending champion Keegan Bradley is hot, coming off a win at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Jim Furyk double-bogeyed the 72nd hole at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational last Sunday, and playing partner Keegan Bradley saved par to steal the win. It wasn't just a fluke; Bradley shot 64 on Sunday. It's Bradley's first win since winning last year's PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club. Watch out for Keegan.
5. The 20 lowest scorers in last year's PGA Professional National Championship are playing.
One of those perks of being a golf pro at your local links course … as long as you're really, really good. Listen for the name of Bob Sowards, head professional at Muirfield Country Club, nicknamed "Jack's Course," this weekend.
6. This really is the best field in golf.
The top 108 players in the World Golf Rankings are all in the field this year. Not tough enough for you? Thirty-two major champions who hold a combined 58 major championships will be teeing it up.
7. The winner of this tournament will be long off the tee.
Looong. The Ocean Course will play 7,676 yards for the tournament. Each par-5 is longer than 550 yards, with the killer 593-yard 11th being the longest. The only two par-4s below 400 yards are the first and third holes. Heck, even the par-3s are long, the four of them averaging out to 212 yards a hole.
8. Adam Scott can't squander a major championship lead if he doesn't have the lead in the first place.
Bogey, bogey, bogey, bogey. The phrase will forever live with Scott, a rhythmic chant in his mind every time he plays a major or has a decent lead. Maybe I'm exaggerating, or maybe the experience will help him more than hurt him, but in a very deep field, don't expect Adam Scott to contend in the PGA.
9. The 2012 trend of 54-hole leaders blowing leads will continue.
It's not that I'm rooting for it to happen, but it's just too tough to do, especially on this course. On the back nine, the two par-5s are 593 and 581 yards; the two par-3s are 238 and 223; and the par-4 eighteenth hole is a whopping 501 yards, the longest par-4 on the course. Whoever leads after 54 holes, or even after 63, will lose it on the back nine, if not on the final three holes. It may only be a stroke or two, not necessarily van de Veldian or Scott-esque, but you watch. It'll happen.
10. An American, not named Woods, will win the 94th PGA Championship.
I've already discussed why Woods won't win, as well as the qualities of the course and traits needed for success. Upon narrowing down the field, I can start to list my favorites to win the Wanamaker Trophy. One man who has already won majors this year, Masters champion Bubba Watson, rises to the top of my list. To win the Masters, Watson utilized unbelievably creative shot-making, as well as a long driver (he leads the Tour this year in driving distance, at 316.6 yards per). Those two assets are the same two you need to have to contend at Kiawah Island. Watson, Bradley, Rory McIlory, and Zach Johnson all have similar capabilities -- all four of them have averaged 300 yards or better per drive and 3.8 or more birdies per round this year.
I round out my short list with Jason Dufner, who's having a career year with two wins and second place on the money list; and Bo Van Pelt, who has similar driving and shot-making abilities as the others, and has eight top-10s, tied for the most on tour this year.
Now, notice how five of those six favorites, with the exception of McIlroy, are American.
Chant with me: "U-S-A! U-S-A!"
Sources: pga.com/pgachampionship, espn.com
Adam Zielonka is an up-and-coming sportswriter who currently writes about sports and life for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. Adam will begin attending DeSales University in the fall to study communication and sport management. Adam has followed professional golf, and has played casual golf, for years.
- Sports & Recreation
- PGA Championship
- Kiawah Island
- Keegan Bradley
- Adam Scott
- Kiawah Island Golf Resort