The final major of the year tees off at Baltusrol Golf Club on Thursday, with the world’s best golfers vying for the title. This historic course has been set up to test the best and this leaves us thinking that it is unlikely that a player from outside the Top 20 in the world rankings is going to outplay all of the form players in the world. The weather is normally less of a factor than at the Open Championship, but rain is forecast for the tournament and the players who can adjust best to changing course conditions and the interruptions may have a better chance. In this vain, Phil Mickelson who had a fantastic Open Championship and was the PGA Champion the last time this tournament was hosted at this venue in 2005, could have a great chance. He loves the layout and is a wizard in tough conditions due to his ball control.
The course will naturally be set up for Major Championship conditions. This means that poor shots will be punished as the Greenkeepers have allowed the rough to grow extremely long. This is to the extent that if you drop a coin into the rough, it simply disappears. The players may be able to see the top of their ball, but it is thick and will make playing any shot confidently out of the rough supremely challenging. But they are the Best around.
Baltusrol has 2 courses and the lower course is being used for this year’s event. This course is normally a Par 72, but when the Big Boys roll into town the Course Committee make some adjustments and drop the par to 70. Holes number 1 and 7, which are normally par 5s, are changed to par 4s for the PGA. This means that there are no par 5 holes on the front 9. In fact the players have to wait until holes 17 and 18 when they find the only two Par 5s as their closing holes. This should make for some intriguing golf if it is tight coming to the final stretch on Sunday afternoon.
The first three Majors of 2016 have provided first time major winners on each occasion. Danny Willet in the Masters, Dustin Johnston in the US Open and most recently Henrik Stenson in The Open have taken home the silverware. If this trend where to continue then you have to look at some of the other great players who have yet to secure their first Major. Following this logic you would look towards Sergio Garcia, Ricky Fowler, Brandon Grace or maybe Lee Westwood. But in reality it is hard to look past the form players in the world. Names like McIlroy, Johnston, Day, Scott, Stenson, Spieth, Mickelson will probably dominate the leader board throughout the week.
This should be another humdinger, so strap in for a week of top class golf and action.
Our dark horse for the week is our own Charl Schwartzel. So bring it on !!!
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