No player has won the Masters and PGA Championship in the same season since Jack Nicklaus back in 1975.
And that is probably what Tiger Woods is going to try and accomplish. For superstition purposes, I will leave this here.
The last time the PGA was played in May, it was won by the same player who won the Masters a month earlier.
(Sam Snead, 1949)
— Sean Martin (@PGATOURSMartin) May 14, 2019
Bethpage Black is no walk in the park, and the fact that it has only one water hazard on the whole course but still remain one of the toughest locations, says a lot.
The Long Island course features the unique 8th hole, a 210-yard Par-3. The pond however, is over 6000 square foot and is home to many wildlife including turtles, frogs, fishes and the occasional Pro V1s. The hole is often circulated among attendees that it is in fact, one of the best spots to cheer for your favourite golfer. And frankly, who doesn’t mind seeing a couple of tee-shots swerve into the pond to remind yourself that professional golfers, are human too.
History has shown that long drivers and superb ball-strikers and exemplary course management can navigate and score better on this course, but we shall reduce the criteria to purely distance, and striking.
Based on current form, here are three potential winners I have picked for the week.
Brooks Koepka – The Major Machine
I’m keeping this moniker for the freakish athlete Koepka is.
As we all know, he is the defending champion of the event, and in history only one person has successfully defended the PGA Championship title; the one and only Tiger Woods. In fact, Woods has accomplished this feat twice in his career, 1999-2000 and 2006-2007.
Back to Koepka, he is undoubtedly one of the longest hitter on Tour. He ranks 14th for both distance off the tee (308 yards) , and hitting greens in regulation (71%).
He ranks 6th for ball-striking, and is 12th for birdie averages at 4.5 per round.
My reason for picking Koepka is simple – long, form, due to win another.
In his last ten outings at Majors, he has won twice, came in top-10 three times, and top-15 three more times. That’s nine top-15 finishes in 10 events. His marginal loss to Woods at Augusta last month was negligible, his final day 70 just came up short.
This season, he has already won once, and picked up four top-10s in total.
And with that, I have absolutely no reason to NOT pick Koepka.
Tommy Fleetwood – The Messiah
One of my favourite golfers, Tommy Fleetwood is also due a major.
I would hardly think he is as talented as Sergio Garcia but the hardworking Southport native definiely has it in him to contend.
After finishing joint 8th at the British Masters he hosted last weekend, the Englishman is on decent form coming into this week.
Having made the cut in all events this year, Fleetwood also came in second and third once.
He averages 300 yards off the tee which places him only at 49th on Tour, but his strokes gained off the tee and from tee to green are both ranked 4th.
Based on statistics, Fleetwood will mount an attack on the leader board for the first two days as he tends to die off on the closing rounds. If he could work around that, he might have a chance to finally claim his first major. Fleetwood is ranked 180th on Tour for Round Three and Round Four scoring but first for Round Two.
Tony Finau – The Dark Horse
Big boy Finau. What else to add to the Salt Lake City native.
Although the Samoan descent has only one win in his career, he looks to capitalise on the length needed off the tee for Bethpage Black.
Ranked 6th on Tour with 311 yards off the tee, Finau is frankly just an average all-rounded player. He ranks on the edge of 40th to the brink of 50th across his stat line.
He came in fifth at the recent Masters after tying for 10th a year ago at Augusta. Since then, he finished fifth at the 2018 U.S. Open and tied for ninth at the 2018 British Open.
With some smart course management and a hint of luck, Finau could end his duck with a win here. With predictions to have wet weather all week, the course now plays longer. This week is seriously all about the bombers and what they can do with the short stick.
A monstrous and brawny course needs a crowd-loving tamer, and Finau fits the bill perfectly.
He won here once in 2016 at the Barclays (Northern Trust Open). To win at Bethpage itself is already an accomplishment. Moreover, Reed is the true definition of a wildcard.
Mr Consistent has a lot more to prove. Two wins and five top-10s this season is scintillating form.
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