2014 PGA Championship – Round 1

By | August 6, 2014

Last major of the year… This week should be interesting with all eyes on the top five players in the world. Rory, Scott, Sergio, Rose and Stenson are all playing their best golf of the year as we enter the homestretch of the 2013-4 PGA Tour season and they will be joined by 20 club professionals and about 130 other contenders seeking to hoist the Wannamaker Trophy on Sunday evening.

The PGA takes us to TPC Valhalla just outside of Louisville, Kentucky where we’re expecting afternoon thunderstorms, light winds and high humidity for all four days. You may remember the last time the PGA was played here – back in 2000, Tiger Woods beat Bob May in an exciting three hole playoff. I remember being in the Hamptons with Stats that weekend and watching the final round unfold. Tiger and May traded clutch putts, Tiger drew a few lucky bounces coming down the stretch and we’ll never forget an energized 24-year old phenom walking in a birdie putt on the first playoff hole. As of this writing, I don’t expect to see Tiger this week. Back problems abound and absent some medical magic, he may be home watching it on TV with the rest of us.

On to the golf course… Valhalla is a big hitters ballpark. The scorecard reads 7,458-yards and it plays to a par of 71. That is a lot of real estate to cover and the PGA has not made the setup easy. Expect to see dense rough and fast greens. There will be a premium on length and accuracy – GIRs are your friend (in 2000, Tiger was 1st in GIR and won. Bob May was 2nd in GIR and lost in a playoff. Stuart Appleby was 4th in GIR and finished 4th. Do you see a trend?). Guys unable to control their shots from the rough will spend a lot of time scrambling from deep bunkers and awkward collection areas. Additionally, the course favors a right-to-left flight and it was designed for play through the air; high ball hitters have an advantage stopping shots on pedestal greens that often slope away from the player.

The course also presents many interesting angles. Canted fairways and oblique approaches place a premium on accuracy and distance control. Big par fours and par fives favor the big hitters but only so long as they can keep it in play. The course has some oddities and gimmicks that may frustrate the players but all told, Valhalla will present a relatively fair challenge that opens up the field for some great drama (and lots of action). On to the picks:

To win:

Scott +1,200 (1/2 unit)
Fowler +2,000 (1/4 unit)
Bradley +2,500 (1/4 unit)
Schwartzel +3,300 (1/4 unit)
Moore +6,600 (1/8 unit)
Karlsson +10,000 (1/8 unit)

Head-to-Head (Tournament) – 1 unit each:

Scott +113 over McIlroy
Fowler +109 over Stenson
Stenson -112 over Mickelson
Schwartzel -107 over B. Watson
Cabrera +122 over Stricker
Watney +118 over Woodland
Lowry +109 over Casey
Stadler -101 over de Jonge
Gallacher -106 over Palmer

Head-to-Head (Round 1) – 1 unit each:

Schwartzel +115 over Furyk
Kuchar +105 over Rose
Senden +102 over Haas
Moore +116 over Stenson
Fleetwood +113 over Kelly

Best of luck to all.

plusfours

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