It’s always been an awesome golf tournament, but this year looks set to be something special. Golf has arguably reached heights it never has before, and The Masters was just the beginning…
How Will Players Handle the Black Course?
It comes with a warning sign. Sure, this makes it looks absolutely awesome, but the sign is no decoration: the warning is legitimate. Fortunately, the PGA Championship offers up a complete field of “Highly skilled golfers”. But first tee Major nerves are hardly going to be calmed by the words “Warning” and “Extremely difficult”.
Bethpage State Park’s Black Course in Long Island, New York, hosted the U.S. Open in 2002 and 2009; won by Tiger Woods and Lucas Glover respectively. Scores of -3 (Tiger, 2002) and -4 (Glover, 2009) tell you exactly how challenging the course is, with Tiger being the only player to break par on the par-70 in ’02. Despite the high scores, this course is renowned for producing gripping golf due to its ability to reward and punish in equal measure.
How Will the Date Change Affect the Tournament?
The tournament will be in sharper focus. Moving to the second Major of the year, this was inevitable. But Tiger Woods just made the greatest sporting comeback of all time at Augusta National and sent the golfing world into global delirium… This tournament is timed to perfection.
The other factor affected by the date change is, of course, the weather. 2009 U.S. Open Champion Lucas Glover said the weather was “Just like this”. Right now, it is cold and wet. The wetter it gets, the longer it gets.
What Happened Last Week?
On the European Tour, Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult showed his mettle to hole a final-hole birdie putt for a win of the finest margin at the British Masters; his first on the European Tour. Defending Champion Eddie Pepperell, fellow Englishman Matt Wallace and Scotland’s Robert MacIntyre tied for second, just one stroke off the pace on -15. Tournament host Tommy Fleetwood (-10) also had a good week as he tied for eighth with Martin Kaymer and five others.
South Korea’s Sung Kang earned his first PGA Tour win with a -23 total. Brooks Koepka was the only big name in contention as a lot of star players rested themselves for this week.
Who Has the Upper-Hand?
Somebody who has been there before. Remember Dustin Johnson grounding his club in a bunker at Whistling Straits in 2010? Truthfully, it was beyond harsh. You could say it was a mistake anybody could’ve made, but would Tiger or Phil have made that error? Whether you blame the course, the ruling or the player, the two-stroke penalty cost DJ his maiden Major title. It was extremely controversial, but there’s a reason- a secret ingredient, if you will- that certain players always seem to get the rub of the green. It’s not luck. It’s what defines winners.
That brings us to our final question…
Can Tiger Do It?
Yes. There are plenty of people convinced that he already has the Grand Slam in the bag, which is just getting carried away. However, he couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to make it a second consecutive victory. Bethpage Black is a course where you need that winner’s edge that very few people have. Tiger is arguably the biggest “Winner” in all of sport.
He’s coming off the back of that Masters win, he has 15 Major titles and one of those came at Bethpage Black. Perhaps the question should be “Will Tiger put his back out when lifting that hefty trophy?”
Written by Joe Carabini