The fourth and final major of the year is taking place this week in New Jersey. Baltusrol Golf Club is the site for this year’s PGA Championship. The last time (and only) time they hosted a PGA Championship there, Phil Mickelson one by a shot to claim his second major title.
The course is no stranger to major championships. Although this will only be its 2nd PGA, it has hosted multiple US Opens. The course can play up to 7400 yards and is a par 70 for majors. There is a great mix of holes as well. There are par 4’s over 500 yards and there are some that are iron and wedge. There is a 650 yard par 5, one of the longest in championship golf, followed up by a par 5 that can be reached by nearly every player. Those two par 5’s just so happen to be the 17th and 18th hole which can make for an exciting final round. Those holes were the difference maker in Mickelson’s victory.
Long Drive Contest:
There has been a resurgence of this tradition the last few years. In the practice rounds on Tuesday, one hole is chosen for longest drive and players in the practice rounds get a chance to bomb one (has to be in the fairway) and win the longest drive contest. This year, Byeong-Hun An won with a drive if 347 yards, just edging out Rory who ripped on 345 yards. Below is the shot tracers from the long drive challenge. Safe to say someone is definitely at the range working on correcting their drives. Low and left is never good.
It’s a little hard to say but looking at the past scores and the course and weather this year, I think the winning score will be at -9 under. The course is scorable from the right positions but if you are off on a drive or approach, it can be difficult to recover.
Winner: Rory McIlroy
- He has owned this event and has played well lately. This week will be bombs away for Rory which will end in a trophy or a crash and burn, I’m thinking the first however.
Sleeper: Tony Finau
- Seems to play well in majors, he can really move it.
Top 5 (in order): Rory McIlroy, Zach Johnson, Dustin Johnson, JB Holmes, Branden Grace
- Can’t bet against DJ finishing anywhere outside of the Top 10
Surprise: Jason Day and Jordan Speith both finish outside the Top 50.
- Speith’s ball striking is suspect at best right now and my gut is telling me Day won’t be a factor