It’s time for the fourth and final major of the season, as the PGA Tour moves to Oak Hill Country Club in Pittsford, N.Y., just southeast of Rochester. You’ll remember last year at the Kiawah Island Resort Ocean Course, Rory McIlroy stormed to an easy eight-stroke victory to claim the PGA Championship. All eyes will be on Tiger Woods, who certainly looked like his pre-sullied imitation self at the WGC Bridgestone Invitation at Firestone last weekend.
Woods is a four-time winner of the PGA Championship, but he hasn’t won the event since 2007 at Southern Hills in Tulsa. His last major championship came in 2008 at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, a place he dominates. We’re now more than five years removed from that fateful day of June 16, 2008, outside of San Diego.
In his last start at Oak Hill, Woods actually shot a 12-over 292, finishing 39th at the 2003 PGA Championship. It was his worst 72-hole score at a major until his 12-over 293 at the U.S. Open earlier this season.
There is more than one guy playing this weekend, so let’s not forget about McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Roseand Adam Scott, either. It will be a star-studded event, and we should have plenty of excitement in this year’s pursuit of the Wanamaker Trophy.
The PGA Championship, Pittsford, N.Y.
Purse – $8 million (est.)
Winner Share – $1,445,000.00 (est.)
FedEx Cup Points – 600 points to winner
Course – Oak Hill Country Club, Pittsford, N.Y.
Thursday, Aug. 8 – TNT – 1-7pm ET
Friday, Aug. 9 – TNT – 1-7pm ET
Saturday, Aug. 10 – TNT – 11a-2pm ET, CBS – 2p-7pm ET
Sunday, Aug. 11 – TNT – 11a -2pm ET, CBS – 2p-7pm ET
Taking a spin around the course, the first hole looks innocuous enough. A gentle downslope around the landing spot of most drives will end up giving those in the fairway a short-distance chip onto a wide expanse of a green, with a favorable chance to start off on a high note with a birdie. However, it gets tougher in a hurry.
The third hole is a Par 3, but it requires pinpoint accuracy. Get it onto the dance floor or some ugly numbers could be coming. There are deep bunkers, and traditionally this has ranked as one of the most difficult at the place.
After the battle at three, things get lengthy and easier in a hurry. The fourth hole is a 570-yard Par 5, and a sporadic eagle and a handful of birdies are likely to be in the offing. But the fifth hole is right back to being tremendously difficult. There are plenty of trees, a crick (for you Midwesterners) and an unforgiving rough which will demand accuracy. Gambling here is dangerous, and can result in golfers tumbling down the scoreboard in a hurry.
Things will likely go along rather swimmingly, especially on the 11th hole. To the amateur, this looks dangerous, with a creek snaking through the hole, and bunkers protecting the green. But even a dash into the sand won’t be fatal, as these traps are not deep like the third hole, and there will be plenty of birdies. This is a hole which could be a difference maker come Sunday.
The final two holes will be very interesting. The 17th hole is a Par 4, 509-yarder which is a dogleg right. Traditionally, this hole has played as one of the most difficult, which is what you want for a major. Dreams can be dashed in a hurry with a misplay over the weekend, and that will add to the drama. Trees stand like sentinels along the right side, and the landing spot is protected by bright white sand traps just begging for a golfer to come stand in.
Finally, at No. 18, a big drive is needed for big results. But accuracy is essential, too, with fairway bunkers, northern hardwood trees pinching in and rolling hills. For those watching on television (myself included), it might be one of the more picturesque holes. The green is rather wide, but don’t let that fool you. It is more oval-shaped, and accuracy will be key. This should make for a very exciting finish.
Weekly Picks –
Haas has entered 18 tournaments this season, and he has posted nine Top 10s, including two Top 3s and a victory at Congressional. He has the poise and ability to compete in a tremendously competitive field. From a Fantasy perspective, Haas has actually been a better option this season than McIlroy, Webb Simpson, Jim Furyk, Ernie Elsand Dustin Johnson, just to name a few.
For whatever reason, people tend to forget about Snedeker when talking about the greats in the game today, but he is just as consistent as anyone, and he won the FedEx Cup last season for crying out loud! He is two weeks removed from a victory at the RBC Canadian Open (thanks partially to Zoe Mahan), and he has been 17th or better in four of his past five events, with a 33rd place showing at Bridgestone last weekend. In his past 18 rounds, he has shot 72 or lower 17 times. That type of consistency is what Fantasy owners look for.
We haven’t had a chance to see Hoffman on the main stage this season, as he did not qualify for The Masters or The Open Championship. He was having a solid, yet unspectacular U.S. Open until he stumbled to a nine-over 79 on Sunday to fumble away his chances at a potential Top 25 finish at that major. The man with the flowing blonde locks has been pretty impressive since the end of March, turning in seven Top 20s in his past 13 events.
Kuchar has never won a Major, although he certainly has come close. He did a great job with a tie for eighth place at The Masters, and he followed that up with a decent 28th place run at the U.S. Open. He quietly posted a solid 15th place effort at The Open Championship at Muirfield, but hasn’t really threatened on a Sunday to take home the hardware. However, he has been 28th or better in each of his past six events, he has made the cut in all 17 of his events, and for Fantasy purposes, he is about as consistent as they come.
Mahan’s 156th place finish at the RBC Canadian Open is obviously misleading, as he was well in the lead heading into Saturday’s third round before his wife went into labor, and he bolted from Canada to be at her side despite leading the tournament. It was something we have never really seen before, as he might not have gained a huge payday, but he did gain quite a few fans. Before that event, he had managed to finish 26th or better in six of his previous seven tournaments, including a tie for fourth at the U.S. Open, and an impressive tie for ninth at the British.
Stroud is a little bit of a Fantasy sleeper heading into Oak Hill. He has been a bit up and down, stumbling to an awful 97th place finish and missed cut in Canada. However, before that he tied for ninth in Mississippi at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and he had a runner-up at the Travelers June 20-23. Stroud also had an impressive tie for seventh at Colonial. This is his first start in a major this season, and hopefully the bigger stage doesn’t overwhelm him.
There is just no reason to avoid Day when it comes to a major. He really seems to rise to the occasion when the stakes are highest. This season, he had a third-place finish at The Masters, a tie for runner-up at the U.S. Open, and a respectable 32nd-place effort at The Open Championship. Ignore his 53rd place finish at Bridgestone last weekend, as that is an anomaly. Before that, he hadn’t finished worse than 32nd dating back to late March.
Stenson has been playing outstanding golf lately, not only on the PGA Tour, but during Euro events as well. He has managed back-to-back runner-ups at The Open Championship and at Bridgestone, and made the cut in six straight events since early May. He has inched ever-so-close to giving Sweden its first-ever winner in a Major, and seeing Stenson hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy is not hard to imagine come Sunday.
Leave ‘em in the Bag
Avoid using these Fantasy options at The PGA Championship
Robert Garrigus (all Fantasy formats)
Garrigus started this season playing tremendous golf, but somewhere along the line things took a dramatic turn for the worse. It happened somewhere around The Players Championship in early June, and he has yet to regain his early-season swagger. Garrigus has finished 64th or worse in seven straight events, missing the cut or withdrawing in six of the past seven tournaments.
Tiger Woods (Tiered and Salary Cap formats)
This is saving the shocker for last, so to speak. Tiger should certainly make the cut, but his salary cap figure in Daily Fantasy formats and weekly games is through the roof based upon his performance at Firestone last weekend. The fact remains, he hasn’t won a major in over five years (U.S. Open – 2008), and he won last weekend. It isn’t often a golfer wins a PGA Tour event, and then follows it up with a major. He struggled his last time at Oak Hill (see above), and has just one career Tour win in the state of New York. You can certainly use your allotted salary much more wisely and spread the talent across the board.
*All stats up-to-date as of 08/05/12.
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