Power Rankings: PGA Championship
August 10, 2015
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Bubba Watson lost in a playoff to Martin Kaymer at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. (Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
Too often, for any next generation, a "Where are they now?" is really a "Who were they then?" However, that's hardly the case for the main actors of the live reality show that was the 2010 PGA Championship. Sure, it's been only five years, but careers have fizzled in far shorter periods of time to many a major champion, much less merely those who contended.
It was at Sheboygan, Wisconsin's Whistling Straits in 2010 where Dustin Johnson grounded his club in a bunker on the 72nd hole. Whether your immediate recall takes you to that contact or him turning his pencil around to correct the score or the awkward stroll to his courtesy car, it overshadowed Martin Kaymer's playoff win over Bubba Watson. The German has gone on to win another major (2014 U.S. Open) and the mercurial lefty has matched with a pair of green jackets, but DJ is not yet a member of the club that includes only winners of the four biggest events in the game.
The infamous bunker on the par-4 finishing hole is now partially engulfed by a grandstand, but all sand on both sides of the ropes is considered a hazard again this week. The Pete Dye creation is a stock par 72 and reads 7,501 yards on the scorecard. That's six yards fewer than in 2010. Various reasons prompted length modifications to four holes, but the primary motivation was to enhance the spectator experience on the challenging property that features massive elevation changes. For the record, the par-5 fifth, par-4 14th and par-4 18th increased in yardage while the par-5 11th is down 55 yards to its current 563 yards.
In what was its second turn as host to the PGA Championship in 2010 (after debuting in 2004), Whistling Straits averaged 0.921 strokes over par. Dye's routing forces carries and shot-shaping to align with ribbons of fairways in spots, but the field found the short grass 64.29 percent of the time, so it's a fair test off the tee. The greens-in-regulation split landed at 63.13 percent, but scrambling measured just 51.54 percent. En route to his victory, Kaymer ranked T32 in distance off the tee and T49 in accuracy, but he averaged 13 greens in regulation per round (T6) and ranked third in scrambling. He co-led the field in par-3 scoring, finished T11 in par-4 scoring and T10 in par-5 scoring.
Distance can be helpful this week, but course management is the premium. The bentgrass greens average a roomy 7,000 square feet, so setting up approaches time and again is preferred. Of the 11 golfers who finished inside the top 10 here in 2010, all were inside the top 30 in GIR. By comparison, six ranked inside the top 30 in distance and only four were among the top 30 in fairways hit.
Aside from the chance for inclement weather on Thursday and into Friday, conditions should be favorable for the tournament. Whether the timing of that energy benefits one side of the draw remains to be determined. Seasonal temperatures will flirt with 80 degrees every day and might spike for the finale. Prevailing winds from the west and southwest are expected and are already forecast to be moderate, so that may give an edge to the contingent that can play beneath the gusts.
POWER RANKINGS: PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 1 Bubba Watson 2 Jason Day 3 Jordan Spieth 4 Justin Rose 5 Rickie Fowler 6 Rory McIlroy 7 Henrik Stenson 8 Brooks Koepka 9 Hideki Matsuyama 10 Zach Johnson 11 Shane Lowry 12 Danny Lee 13 Robert Streb 14 Adam Scott 15 Danny Willett 16 Patrick Reed 17 Jim Furyk 18 Dustin Johnson 19 Louis Oosthuizen 20 Matt Kuchar