Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Whistling Straits

It's that time again.  The last Major, America's PGA Championship, begins at Whistling Straits, signalling the end of another great season of professional golf.  

Thanks to the world becoming a much smaller place, and Golfchannel providing us with golf from all over the globe, all day, all year, there really is almost no real end to the golf season.  Perhaps the finale in America is now supposed to be the FedEx Cup, which provides the winner a huge payday at the Tour Championship.  Lately, we've seen FedEx champions who are top players, but have not tended to be the great players. Jim Furyk, Bill Haas, Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, and Billy Horschell, the last five winners are good.  I love Stenson's swing. I like Horschell's grittiness, and I'd love to have Snedeker's putting stroke.  I admire Bill Haas' swing as well; and Jim Furyk, if he could only manage to get on with it a bit quicker, is fascinating to watch with his old-school action.  But, let's face it, none of them have managed to build a resume that marks them as great players. None of them, except Furyk, have captured a Major, and this list of lesser name champions makes the FedEx Cup less of a Major, and more of a money grab, at least as far as I am concerned.

The FedEx Cup has been a great reward for a player who can finish in the top thirty on the money list and then manage to get hot in the final few events of the season when the very top players tend to be tired after chasing the four Majors and are probably just looking forward to Augusta in April, or the next Ryder or President's Cup, as well as a bit of a rest.  

While they aren't saying it--or at least I haven't heard them saying it--the FedEx people and the PGA tour are probably not all that thrilled about how the FedEx Cup has evolved.  They really haven't got much bang for their buck so far.  In the beginning, the winner was almost a foregone conclusion, so you didn't even have to bother watching the Tour Championship unless you had nothing better to do. Lately, with the new system, the winner is very much in doubt, but I often find I couldn't care less who it is, my favourite player, or players, having often faded from view.  I don't think many of my buddies get all that excited about it either.

So, having got the FedEx thing out of the way, I come back to the PGA championship at Whistling Straits. It should prove to be a great tournament on what seems to be a pretty awesome course.  It's definitely on my bucket list to play.  My impression is that we could find many of the same guys who were in the hunt at Chambers Bay vying for the Wannamaker at Whistling Straits.  It's a similar venue.  It will likely demand the same sort of golf to get it done.  And, there will be the pressure of a Major championship, which attracts the usual suspects and encourages the cream to rise to the top.

That being the case, I like Spieth, DJ, Rory, or Oosthuizen for the win.  I suspect Bubba will be in the hunt if his head is in the game; he nearly won there the last time.  I wouldn't be surprised to see Kaymer there again, along with Stenson, because both guys have big games, and Stenson looks to be enjoying some good form lately.

Like the FedEx Cup, I often find myself less excited about the PGA championship than the other three Majors.  I don't really know why, because it is a real Major, with a long history; longer than the Masters, But it just doesn't seem to have the same cachet.  When kids are on the putting green, they're generally putting to win the Masters, the Open, or the U.S. Open.  I've never heard a kid say, "This putt is to win the PGA."  I wonder why that is.

I have so many favourites, I hate to hope for just one guy to win it.  I'd love to see Spieth do it and remove any doubt--if indeed there can still be any doubt--that this kid is the next great one.  I'd love to see DJ finally get the monkey off his back; and to do it at Whistling Straits would be poetic justice after his near miss last time.  So, my wish list is Spieth or DJ.  My longshot pick is Branden Grace.

At the end of the day, I just hope the boys, and the course, give us a memorable show.  It's been a great year so far.