He played good all week but it was really the second round 63 that propelled him to be in a position to win. He was first in strokes-gained putting all week and his scrambling was fantastic. He is sneaky long off the tee averaging 312 on every drive all week, but I really don’t expect him to even contend at the PGA at all.
Players Previously Talked About: Rickie Fowler
Rickie captured his first win at Quail back in 2012, and for how good he is, he does not have the performances to back it up. In my opinion, Rickie is the best player without a major championship victory. My favorite putter on tour, and is a tremendous long distance putter, Rickie had a decent week at the Wells. He backed doored a top five finish behind a really strong weekend finish. As for what this means for the PGA, this puts nothing but positive thoughts in my head about Rickie. I really feel that he has a good shot at winning his first major at Bethpage.
Former world number 1 and current 2nd player in the world, Justin Rose had a very solid week finishing in 3rd place four shots back. Back to back 68’s on the weekend as well as a Friday 67 propelled Rose to this finish. At 4th in strokes gained putting, Rose was awful around the greens and off the tees. Hitting just under half of the fairways all week, its amazing Rose finished this high especially at a course like Quail Hollow. With playing well during the Wells while not hitting many fairways, I think thats going to translate well over to a course like Bethpage. From my previous prediction of Rose not playing well, after this week, I think Rose will actually have a decent finish.
Current world number 4, Rory continued his good form at Quail Hollow. But it was a final round 73 that left Rory, and Rory fans like me, questioning his performance heading into the PGA Championship. The only two time winner of the Wells Fargo, you can pretty much expect Rory to be around on Sunday. Rory made very little mistakes this week and it was not until the final round when they affected him. Just a plain AWFUL week of putting, Rory was lost 2 shots on the greens, and 2 shots around the greens. This is a constant theme in Rory’s game and the putting may never be fixed. If this continues to Bethpage, Rory is going to have a terrible week. I think Rory will make the cut, but not be in contention after watching him this week.
After the first two days, Reed was in contention to win this tournament with a good weekend. However, losing a stroke on the greens mainly jus from the weekend where it was losing 2 strokes on the greens, Reed just didn’t have it, a reoccurring theme for him this year. I’m intrigued by Patrick because he won last time the Tour was at Bethpage, but after his performances this year, I really don’t expect Patrick to play well.
Bethpage Black is the next course to host a major. We last saw this course during the FedEx Cup a few years back in 2016, and the last major there was the 2009 U.S. Open, the one where Lucas Glover one. Cannot say I expect a repeat of that this year. Back then the course played as a par 70 and at 7,426 yards, and when Patrick Reed won it back in 2016, it was a par 71. Both cuts were similar, 2009 it was 4 over par, and 2016 it was 3 over par. Sean O’Hair finished top 10 in both, but I also don’t see that happening again this year. Maybe he will have a round like major championship round one Charley Hoffman, but like Charley Hoffman, he won’t keep it up. As for finalist in the ’09 U.S. Open, Tiger back-doored a top-10 finish, as well as Sergio, and Rory. Hunter Mahan tied Tiger at T6 and Phil Mickelson finished T2, 2 shots back.
This post I am going to analyze a couple of dark horses, front-runners, and questionable players and dive into the PGA Championship.
#1. Dustin Johnson
Pretty much an obvious pick here, not much surprise. However, Dustin has not had his best even though he remains ranked number one in the world, or battling Justin Rose for it. Most recently shooting 6 over in the final round at the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town finishing T28. Had a runner-up finish at The Master behind great, consistent play all week, a T5 at The Players finishing 3 shots back, and a runaway 5 shot victory down in Mexico at the WGC. In 2016 Dustin finished T18 at 2 under par during The Barclays, and made the cut but finished T-40 at the 2009 U.S. Open. Expect a made cut and a high finish.
#2. Rory McIlroy
Yet another pretty obvious selection. Rory is always a favorite for pretty much any tournament he enters in. A pretty poor couple of years from Rory ever since that FedEx Cup victory, Rory is back trending upwards. A two-time winner of the PGA, his last major victory was the 2014 PGA Championship. As of late however, he’s won the 2018 Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the 2019 Players Championship. As of his career at Bethpage, he finished at even and a 31 in 2016, and just slid into a top 10 finish in 2009. Expect him to play well at Bethpage this year.
#3. Brooks Koepka
Consistent theme, an obvious choice. Out of my front-runner choices, I like Koepka the best to win. Seems like he only wins major championships. The first player since Curtis Strange in 1989 to defend U.S. Open victories. He’s got 5 victories on tour, 3 are majors. He just shows up when it matters, clutch gene. Its hard to say this because I don’t like to judge past results in the PGA, but he has played well in this event. Finished T70 at 7 over par in 2016 at The Barclays, I do not think Koepka will play well during the PGA.
#1. Rickie Fowler
Now most of these Dark Horses are going to seem like Front-runners, but this is my opinion on these players. Fowler has played well this year, and seems like he’s always in the conversation to win majors. Picking up a win at the Waste-Management Open, Rickie just does not seem to have the game to win a major, but yet, at some points, Rickie shows us he could win anything. A very consistent player, Rickie will make the cut like he typically does, and last time at this course, he finished T7 after a very disappointing final round 74. I predict the 10th ranked player in the world to finish strong and inside the top-1o, and maybe even win.
#2. Tony Finau
Finau had a great 2019 Master, playing in the final group with Tiger and ultimately finishing T5. With only one PGA Tour victory under his belt coming way back in 2016, and even in a event that was on a off week. Finau had a fantastic 2018 major campaign. Top 10 finishes in The Masters, U.S. Open, and British Open. Last years PGA Championship saw Finau finish at T42. With the power that he has, and his ability to show up in majors, especially playing well as of late, I expect Finau to have a good week. He also finished solo 12th at 4 under during The Barclays back in 2016. I think Finau will make the cut and finish high.
#3. Matt Kuchar
He’s got 9 PGA Tour Victories, and 2019 is proving to be a GREAT year for Matt. Picking up a early victories down in Mayakoba and Hawaii, the most negative thing was the whole caddie situation. Kuchar seems like he is just a sneaky guy who can maybe get the job done. But a T64 finish back in 2016 at Bethpage has me wondering if this time is the time that Matt finally captures a major. The 2019 PGA Championship just does not feel like a tournament or major that Matt is going to win.
#4. Louis Oosthuizen
One of the best, if not THE best swings on tour, the results do not show how good it is. He ran away with the Open Championship back in 2010 winning by 7 shots, he lost in a playoff in both the 2012 Masters, and the 2015 Open Championship. A solid T7 finish at The Masters this year definitely has me interested in Oosthuizen’s stock. A very good T18 finish back in 2016 was behind a final round 67. I think that Louis is going to have a fantastic week during the PGA and I am excited to watch him.
#5. Patrick Reed
Reed has a decent track record coming into this event. He has won a couple of PGA Tour Events, he won The Masters a year ago, and back in 2016 he won The Barclays at Bethpage Black. Ranked 19th in the world, Reed has not had a great 2019 campaign. His highest finish this year comes at Sony down in Hawaii and Famers Insurance Open, both in which he finished T13. Being a past champion at Bethpage means a lot due to the difficulty of the course. And also being a past major champion gives a lot of confidence as well, especially to Patrick. However, a tough go of things in 2019 is proving tough to decide how he is going to play. Expect him to make the cut and play well on the weekend.
#1. Jordan Spieth
I think everyone can agree, this is the top choice as to questionable players right now. His last win was the 2017 Open Championship, and since them we have seen him fall all the way to 35th in the Official World Golf Rankings. A rough 2018 season left Jordan stunned when he did not make it all the way to East Lake. And things seem to be carrying over into 2019. His highest finish for the year is a T21 at The Masters. Jordan has just gotten way to technical with his swing and his putting. Once that putter is cooking like it was back in 2015, expect Spieth to return to the top. However, playing like this is good for one thing for Spieth. He is trying to complete the career grand slam, and a PGA Championship where he is freed up and the main thing on his mind isn’t the grand slam, could prove to benefit him. Finishing T10 is going to help Jordan a lot, but winning seems like it won’t happen for Spieth. I expect him to not play well, maybe even miss the cut.
#2. Justin Rose
For some reason, Rose just seems shaky to me. He picked up a early win at the Farmers Insurance Open, but a recent missed cut at The Masters has me thinking Rose won’t play well during the PGA. Ranked 2nd in the world currently, and trading off frequently with Dustin Johnson, Rose is quiet and not talked about. And that is what leads to the questions around him. He has not played many events in 2019, and I really don’t expect him to play all that well during the PGA. He finished T31 during The Barclays at even par for the week.
#3. John Rahm
Rahm has not won on the PGA Tour since the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge if you don’t count the Hero World. After that win he was ranked 2nd in the world and has since dropped 11th. And a terrible shot out of a fairway bunker cost him a chance to win The Players. A T9 finish at The Masters after playing the first two rounds with Tiger is extremely good. Rahm needs to manage his emotions to be able to win. And he needs to do it even better during the week of a major. I expect Rahm to make the cut and play well, I don’t think he will win.
Well, yes, that did just happen. Tiger Woods is a major champion yet again. This past Sunday, Woods captured his 15th major championship and 81st PGA Tour Victory. When Tiger was at his lowest of lows, I stood confident and declared Tiger would win again, and yes, he would win another major. Tiger, in my opinion, is the greatest of all time. Once he won the Tour Championship that pretty much solidified himself to me that he was the GOAT. Throughout the week at The Masters, Tiger just had that aura around him that he could win this week. He was just calm and in his own words he did a great job of “plotting around the golf course”.
He opened with a 70, like he has on his 3 of his other 4 Masters victories. His putter was a little shaky to start in the first round and he missed a good amount of putts from 5-10 feet. “I felt like I played well,” Woods said after his first round concluded. He made birdies on 2, 9, 13, 15 and bogeyed 5 and 17. Tiger has overcome a lot, and even that is such an unbelievable understatement. But one really impressive feat is overcoming the chipping yips. If you can think back to that Hero World Challenge at Isleworth, the one where Spieth absolutely annihilated(like he normally does when he wins), but if you can think of the way Tiger’s short game was then. And then to take it from Isleworth, and compare it to now, the change is crazy. Scrambling at 88% percent for the week is a very underestimated accomplishment.
Second round was a a great addition to a start that Tiger was absolutely comfortable with. Opening with 3 straight pars, Tiger birdied the TOUGH par 3 4th hole, Flowering Crab Apple. After a bogey on the 5, like he would turn out to have all week on that hole, he bounced back with a birdie on Juniper, the par 3 6th. The putter defiantly rebounded the second and helped him out. After a deflating bogey on the par 5 8th, Woods fired straight back with a birdie on the 9th, making the turn in 1 under, and 3 under for the tournament. Woods then played a FANTASTIC back nine. Birdies on 11(yes 11.), 14, and 15, Woods should have actually scored a bit lower. Yes the birdie on 11 was a rare feat, Woods should have birdied 13, and 17. He played a great little baby draw into a tucked left pin on 17 and his putt just did not break like he thought it would. And a par on 18 left him shooting a 68 on day 2, and -6 for the tournament heading into the weekend at The Masters.
The third round was much of the same and if not better. Four straight pars and the standard for the week bogey on 5 left Tiger at 1 over on the day through 5 holes. Tiger was patient all week, but this patience really showed on the weekend. After this frustrating bogey on 5, Tiger rolled in three straight birdies on 6, 7, and 8. All of a sudden from 1 over through 5, Tiger sat at 2 under through 8. The shot on 7 was one of his best of the week. A hold off fade that just rode with the wind, landed a foot from the pin, and stayed there. Another misread on 8 lead to around a 15 footer for eagle sliding by on the left side leaving Tiger with a birdie. Another fantastic back nine with birdies on 13,15, and 16. One of the best moments of the tournament could be the putt on 16 from like 8 feet in which Tiger walked in like it was 2005 all over again, especially with the mock turtle neck. 11 under for the tournament and trailing leader Francesco Molinari by 2 heading into the final round.
Fans and players around the world braced themselves for what could be one of the most historic days in all of sports. The day that people have waited so long for. 14 years to be exact. The final round started just the way every other round did. A par to begin with, but it was a clutch, very fast, downhill slider on 3 that he buried for birdie and put a little pressure on Molinari. Bogeys on 4 and 5 killed pretty much all of his momentum. Another bad bogey on 10 and a final one on 18 combined with birdies on 7, 8, 13, 15, and a almost hole-in-one on 16. Tiger’s patience finally proved to be the X-factor on the famed 12th hole, Golden Bell. Molinari, Koepka, and Finau all put it in the water while Tiger took it over the middle of the front bunker, safely on the green. But to be honest, almost made a bogey. Walking up to the reception on 18 and making the final putt, you could see the sheer excitement and happiness on Tiger’s face.
As for the rest of the majors, Tiger is very familiar with 2 out of the remaining 3. Bethpage and Pebble are two courses Tiger has won majors at. Most famously the 2000 U.S. Open where he won by 15 shots and computer simulations literally cannot even reproduce what he did. As well as a wire-to-wire win at Bethpage Black in 2002 where he was the only player to finish under par. I do not think Tiger will capture another major this season and I believe this is his best shot to win a major outside of Augusta again. This is only due to his prior history at these courses. I think that if he wins a major again this season it is the US Open at Pebble. However, I do not think that The Masters is going to be his last win this season. I think that he will definitely win again on tour and I believe he will capture Sam for the most wins all-time.
Tiger is playing some really great golf right now. All of the talks about “he’s back” and “the Tiger we know is back” is a bit outrageous. THAT Tiger will NEVER be back. During he rise, the rate he won at is absolutely absurd. The way he closed out, and just the sheer intimidation will never be back IN FULL. I do agree a little has come back. When players see his name they do get a little nervous. Not to the point they used to, but there is a little there. Do not be surprised to see this as a regular thing from Tiger.