Quick look at the PGA Championship
May 15, 2019
By Ben Everill, PGATOUR.COM
Inside the PGA TOUR
PGA Championship preview
For the first time in well over half a century, the PGA Championship returns to May, finding its new home in the middle of the season of championships. Bethpage Black, the tough public track on Long Island, plays host to the world’s best who all want to lift the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday. But first, they’ll have to tame the par-70 7,459-yard beast… good luck.
The finishing stretch to any major is always tough, given what is at stake. At Bethpage Black, those wanting to claim the Wanamaker on Sunday will have to negotiate the 490-yard par-4 16th, the 207-yard par-3 17th and then the 411-yard par-4 18th. When the FedExCup Playoffs hit the course in 2012 and 2016, the final three holes all averaged over par. Playing this stretch mistake-free will certainly be a challenge. If you need a birdie… it’s going to take some clutch shots. Perhaps the best chance at scoring will be the final hole, where an aggressive drive into the fairway, that avoids the numerous bunkers left and right, could leave just a wedge. But the green is seriously elevated, meaning distance control becomes tougher. Here’s a closer look at the closing stretch.
Bethpage State Park (Black) - Nos. 16, 17 and 18
There are plenty of tough holes at Bethpage Black, but the toughest might just be the par-4 10th. At 502 yards, this brute is the first hole of the round for half the field each day… spare a thought for those heading out there early in the cold weather and having to take a 15-minute shuttle ride that might negate some of their warmup. In 2016 at THE NORTHERN TRUST, the hole played to a 4.287 average, yielding just 28 birdies over the four rounds. It was one of the 50 toughest holes on TOUR that season. Here’s a look at where all the drives ended up in 2016.
From PGA TOUR meteorologist Stewart Williams: “Scattered showers will be possible early Thursday morning and should end around daybreak with partly cloudy skies expected for the rest of the day. Another fast-moving front may produce scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms Friday afternoon before high pressure finally returns for the weekend. Temperatures will likely moderate into the upper 60s to low 70s Saturday and Sunday with partly cloudy skies. The chance for scattered showers and thunderstorms returns on Monday as the next system approaches.
For the latest weather news from Farmingdale, New York, check out PGATOUR.COM’s Weather Hub.
SOUND CHECKThis is not only a big golf course, but this is going to be a long week the way the golf course is set up and potentially could play. This could be a hell of a championship.
BY THE NUMBERS
1949 – The last time the PGA Championship was held in May was 1949. In that year, the same person who won the Masters (Sam Snead), won the PGA Championship. An omen for Tiger Woods perhaps?
264 – Record 72-hole score in the PGA Championship set by Brooks Koepka last year. Koepka was 16-under at Bellerive Country Club. In relation to par, Jason Day’s 20-under 268 from 2015 at Whistling Straits sits on top. Neither is expected to be sniffed this week.
8 – Number of players to win the PGA Championship on their first try. Most recently: Keegan Bradley in 2011. There are 30 players on debut in this championship.
20 – Club professionals in the field. Just one has advanced to the weekend in each of the last two years. The best finish from a club pro came from Tommy Bolt, who was third in 1971. Since the turn of the millennium, the highest finish from a club pro is T31 from Chip Sullivan in 2004.
18 – Number of winners in the 29 PGA TOUR events this season who were inside the top 50 of the World Rankings at time of their victory. 49 of the top 50 (and 99 of top 100) are in the field this week.
10 – Number of different FedExCup champions in the field: Tiger Woods (2007, 2009), Vijay Singh (2008), Jim Furyk (2010), Brandt Snedeker (2012), Henrik Stenson (2013), Billy Horschel (2014), Jordan Spieth (2015), Rory McIlroy (2016), Justin Thomas (2017) and Justin Rose (2018). Only Bill Haas (2011) is not here.
The last time Tiger Woods won the first two majors of the year was in 2002. The venues? Augusta National (Masters) and Bethpage Black (U.S. Open).
Brooks Koepka has won three of his last seven majors played. But he has much higher goals in mind. Koepka says he wants to win at least 10. “I don't see why you can’t get to double digits,” Koepka said. “I think you keep doing what you’re supposed to do, you play good, you peak at the right times… I think sometimes the majors are the easiest ones to win.”
Matt Kuchar leads the FedExCup standings by 468 points over Xander Schauffele on the strength of two wins and a total of six top-10 finishes this season. Only Schauffele (468 behind) and Rory McIlroy (498 points behind) can mathematically move to No. 1 in the FedExCup standings with a win this week.
Only three players in the field this week have had prior success at Bethpage Black. Tiger Woods won the 2002 U.S. Open, Lucas Glover won the 2009 U.S. Open and Patrick Reed won THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2016. Nick Watney won THE NORTHERN TRUST in 2012, but is not in the field this week.
The cut will cull the field of 156 players to the low 70 scorers and ties after 36 holes. In the event of a tie for first place after 72 holes, there will be a three-hole aggregate score playoff on holes 1, 17 and 18. If a tie still remains, there will be a hole-by-hole playoff beginning on No. 18, and, if necessary, on to holes 1, 17 and 18 repeated until a winner is determined.