The PGA Championship makes its May debut at Bethpage Black Golf Course on Long Island with golf in a great place in the sports landscape. Tiger Woods is among the favorites after his monumental victory at The Masters in April and he has brought the casual golf fan back to the game.
Expect a record number of viewers to tune in to see whether Tiger can reclaim his perch on top of the golf world.
Bethpage Black, an already long and hard course will be playing even longer due to soggy conditions so look for the bombers to have the best chance to add the Wannamaker Trophy on Sunday. This tough test will separate the field by Sunday and it will be a big-time name that wins it all. Let’s take a look at the 6 golfers that have the best chance.
Brooks Koepka: He has to be the favorite at Bethpage. Koepka’s been absolutely dominant in recent major championships winning 3 of the last 7 he’s played. Underrated storyline from the Masters was how easily Koepka could have won. If you told Tiger he would shoot 70 when he started the day, there is no way he’d say that would have been good enough to win. It was though because Koepka missed numerous 10-15 foot putts including an atrocious effort on the 18th green. Still, Brooks comes to play in majors and has the talent and more importantly the mindset to come through in the clutch.
Rory McIlroy: It’s about time the talent of his generation wins another major. We are 5 years removed from his 4th major championship at Valhalla and he’s only been really close at the 2018 Open Championship. This course sets up very well for Rory and the soggy conditions will be perfect for his high ball flight. If he does win on Sunday, look for him to win either the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach or the Open Championship in his home country of Ireland.
Dustin Johnson: Bethpage is similar to Oakmont, so look for Dustin to contend and possibly win if he can make some putts. He left his birdie putt a foot short at the Masters which would have gotten him in a playoff and it didn’t even look like he played well. Too much talent to have only one major so number two could come this week.
Tiger Woods: I think this course is too long for him and will put too much pressure on his unreliable driver. But I didn’t think he’d ever win another major so what do I know. If he’s in contention, don’t be surprised if other players fold down the stretch and he steals another major like he did the Masters.
Jon Rahm: Haven’t heard much from this guy this but if he can straighten out his driver, the young Spaniard could win his first major. The boisterous Long island crowds could get behind the hot-tempered Rahm and propel him to victory.
Xander Schauffele: This guy will break through and it could be sooner than later. He had a chance at the Masters but couldn’t birdie any holes down the stretch.
Bethpage is hard and will require a worthy champion so I’d be surprised if the winner didn’t come from this group of six. Here are some also rans who are missing a key ingredient to win at Bethpage:
Francesco Molinari: still Mr. Consistency and if he hits a solid shot on the 12th hole at Augusta, we’d be talking about the hottest golfer on the planet but his lack of length will be an issue here and will negate some of the accuracy he has with his irons. It’s a lot easier to be accurate with a 6 iron than a 4 iron.
Justin Rose: If he pars the 18th hole at Augusta in 2017, he has his second major and Sergio would still be shut out. How fun would that be? He couldn’t do it though and therefore I don’t trust him in majors anymore.
Jordan Spieth: I’m worried about him at this major. If things go haywire he could shoot 78/80 and that would be pretty embarrassing for a 3-time major winner.
Tony Finau: Big hitter and trendy pick but I don’t think he’s ready for prime time yet. He will be but not now and not here.
Rickie Fowler: Rickie is going to win a major and likely more than one. He just doesn’t have the distance to get it done at Bethpage.
Dan Redmond can be found @danfromdc on Twitter