The 2nd major of the year (PGA Championship) is all set to take place this week on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island in South Carolina. The Ocean Course is playing 7,876 yards this year which sets a major record for course distance. The Ocean Course is described as sort of a links style golf course, although it doesn’t really play like one to the players because you won’t see them running shots up to the greens. The main reason it plays like a links style golf course is because of the constant breeze out of the Atlantic Ocean and the overall looks of the golf course.
Another interesting piece to this year’s PGA Championship is that players will be allowed to use range finders which is allowed by PGA of America. The PGA of America is the first major governing body to allow distance-measuring devices in it’s professional events. While they believe it will speed up play on the 7,876 yard course, the players and caddies say otherwise. Paul Tesori, who is Webb Simpson’s long time caddie, says that ” we still want front numbers, and the range finder, you can’t always get the accurate front number…”. Jordan Spieth says “We’ll plan on using it, but I think it will be more confirmation than anything. It’s not going to be we just step up, shoot it, and go. I mean, these pins get tucked and the wind’s blowing and you got to figure out a few more things than just the number to the hole.”
The main problem with allowing rangefinders is that they may shoot one number while the caddie walks off a different number, this is where slowing down play comes into play. If this happens (its likely to happen…rangefinders shoot anywhere in a range of 1-5 yards different every time you use them), then players and caddies will have to discuss further what they think the true yardage is and so on and so forth. Basically, bringing in range finders allows for more confusion due to the fact that players and caddies have all their distances down to a t heading into Thursday
In 2012, when Rory McIlroy won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island (Ocean Course), he shot a blistering 13-under on his way to a 8 shot victory. According to multiple reports, the Ocean Course is a newer beast than it was 9 years ago. The golf course is likely to play much more firm than it did in 2012 because it was played in August in 2012 which allowed for all of the summer rainstorms to soften the course up a bit. This year’s is being played in May, which is before the Island gets most of it’s summer downpours.
Jordan Spieth characterized the golf course as a “second-shot layout” meaning there are a ton of blind shots off of the tee and it will be extremely important to control shot trajectories and distances with the ocean breeze coming through constantly. There’s no doubt that the 103rd PGA Championship will be a joy to watch. There are 156 players in the field, with 20 spots reserved for club professionals who are PGA of America members. The top 10 players favored to win based off of odds are listed below:
- Rory McIlroy 11-1
- Justin Thomas 14-1
- Jon Rahm 14-1
- Jordan Spieth 16-1
- Bryson DeChambeau 16-1
- Dustin Johnson 18-1
- Xander Schauffele 22-1
- Viktor Hovland 25-1
- Daniel Berger 30-1
- Collin Morikawa 30-1
Rory is hot coming off of his win at Quail Hollow at the Wells Fargo Championship. Spieth is getting back to his old ways as he’s been in contention in nearly every event he’s played in this year. Another motivator for Spieth this week is that he needs the PGA Championship to finish off his grand slam run (winning all 4 majors). Spieth has won every major except the PGA, so he definitely be looking to get the monkey off his back this week. It won’t be easy though, this field of players is as strong as any field we’ve seen in recent history. Honestly, any one of these guys could go out and win and nobody would be surprised. That’s how competitive golf has gotten and that’s how closely matched all of these players are. Without a doubt, it will be an exciting 2nd major of the year, especially with how many players are playing well heading into the week.