This is the time of year when the PGA Championship used to take place and was known as “Glory’s Last Shot” – August. But due to the new schedule that was implemented last year The PGA is now played in May. But the Covid pandemic cancelled all things sports in April thru June so here we are, about to play 2020’s first major, the PGA, in August. Did I lose you?
The city-owned muni Harding Park in San Francisco is our host this week. Freddie Couples captained a victorious Presidents’ Cup team at Harding in 2009, Tiger Woods held off John Daly in a playoff there at the WGC American Express Championship in 2005, and Rory McIlroy defeated Gary Woodland in the finals of the 2015 WGC Cadillac Match Play. But the public gem wasn’t always at the forefront to host the world’s best players on the grandest of stages. Harding Park fell on hard times during the last half of the 20th century. In fact the course was so rough it served as the parking lot for nearby Olympic Club during the 1998 US Open. Nothing says pristine fairways like please park your car on them. The irrigation system was inadequate and the clubhouse fell into disarray. As rounds played decreased, so did the maintenance budget, and there were often times the dandelions outnumbered the players on the course. The track was saved in 2001 by a Stanford Cardinal alum and former NCAA Champion. No not that one. This was Sandy Tatum. He was a Rhodes Scholar and former President of the USGA, and Harding Park held a special place in his heart. He first played in the City Championship there in 1939. Together with the PGA Tour, Tatum formed an alliance that totally renovated Harding Park and made it the facility it is today.
On to the other former NCAA champ and Stanford alum…Tiger Woods. He has a decent resume’ at Harding Park. He went 5-0 for the US team at the ’09 Presidents’ Cup, and as mentioned above, he won the 2005 World Golf Championship event held there as well. Tiger has been on-site since last weekend, practicing every day. But he has only played 4 professional rounds since February, and looked a tad rusty at Memorial a couple weeks ago. El Tigre’ plays well in Cali, but he hasn’t won a PGA since 2009 at Southern Hills, and he has missed the cut in 3 of his last 4 PGA Championship starts. He only missed 1 cut in his first 16 appearances. From here on out I’ll never be surprised if Tiger wins or plays well, as it is always to be expected. At this point it is definitely a treat to see him compete at a high level. But the weather is due to be in the low to mid 60’s, which can be pleasant, however the bay area is known for that marine-layer fog that places a lot of cool moisture in the air. Not the best recipe for a bad back.
Ins and Outs
Tiger Woods is looking for major win #16 to put him behind Jack Nicklaus by 2. A win would also break his tie with Sam Snead as the all-time winningest player in tour history.
Adams Scott won the Genesis Open in February but has spent the entire quarantine outside of the US and has not played since the restart. This will be his first start in nearly 5 months.
ESPN and ESPN+ will have wall-to-wall coverage with 134 hours of live action planned.
Brooks Koepka looks to become the 7th player in history to win a major 3 consecutive years. The last to do so was Peter Thompson at the British Open from 1954 – 1956. The last to do it at the PGA is Walter Hagen, and he won it 4 straight years from 1924 – 1927.
20 PGA club professionals will tee it up by way of a 2019 points list. You usually have to qualify by your performance in the PGA Professional Championship, but it was cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
Shane Lowry won the last major played, the 2019 Open Championship, which was 13 months ago. That is the 2nd longest gap between majors played since 1942 – 1944 during WWII.
Next to the Players Championship, the PGA has the strongest field in golf. 92 of the top 100 players in the world are teeing it up.
Players to watch
John Rahm, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau
Players I wouldn’t be surprised if they won
Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka
Kevin Na, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Phil Mickelson, Daniel Berger, Matt Kuchar
Enjoy the game and each other,
Written by Seth Zipay – Head Golf Professional
Design and Published by Craig Walton