It will be 382 days between shots hit in a major tournament as many of the world’s best golfers prepare to tee it up at this week’s PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco.
But, then, who’s counting?
The players certainly are as the PGA Tour is going to be making up for lost time as there will now be three majors in less than 100 days. This week’s event will be followed by the U.S. Open, set for Sept. 17-20 and the Masters, which will be played Nov. 12-15.
If that isn’t enough pressure on players, there’s also the fact that just two events — this week’s tournament and next week’s Wyndham Championship — remain before the start of the FedEx Cup playoffs. If you’re not in the playoff picture, to say time is running out is an understatement. By the way, the winner this week receives 600 FedEx Cup points.
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The last time we saw the hype of a major was in 2019 at The Open Championship, July 18-21, 2019, when Shane Lowry coasted to a six-shot victory.
In between that last major and this week’s tournament we’ve seen 33 different players win Tour titles.
But now the excitement factor ramps back up. Fans will be thrilled as they watch on televisions around the world as there will be no spectators allowed on site at Harding Park. The good news is ESPN is taking full advantage as they have planned to air 130-plus hours of coverage over the week. That will include the regular play-by-play action from start to finish as well as following marquee groups and showcasing featured holes. The week-long coverage will be broadcast to more than 60 countries.
That excitement carries over to the star-studded field as well, with 95 of the top 100 players in the world rankings teeing it up at TPC Harding Park which is a par-70 layout reaching right around 7,200 yards.
When the subject of major tournaments finally comes up, two names always seem to leap to the top of the talking points: Tiger Woods and Brooks Koepka.
For Woods it’s because he’s won 15 of them and is chasing Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18.
For Koepka, it’s the fact that all he does is contend in majors seemingly every time out. He’s got seven PGA Tour wins and four of those are majors. Included in his total are the 2018 and 2019 PGA Championships. That’s right, he’s the two-time defending champ.
Will the fact that this week is a major put either of them on our radar? No and yes.
It’s a no for Woods because we don’t think he’s had enough reps to compete over four days. A few streaks of good holes in a row? Absolutely. But not for the four straight days.
It’s a yes for Koepka because of the two straight wins at this event and the fact he’s on the comeback trail recently. He had a great chance to win last week’s WGC event in Memphis after struggling for a few weeks with his game and his health. But now he appears to be rounding back into form.
Is it out of the question for him to win a third straight PGA Championship? Not if he plays as well as he did last week in Memphis, save for a couple of hiccups on Sunday.
So here we go. Ratchet up the pressure this week as the course conditions will be toughened up. Players’ collars might just get a little tighter, the hands will sweat a little more and the breathing will become a little more erratic.
We’ve seen players glide through the first three rounds and then watched as the nerves tighten just enough on Sunday to be costly. A poor drive here, a marginal chip there or a costly three-putt can, and often does, take a player right out of the tournament.
With that being said, we’re thinking it might be time for someone like Collin Morikawa at 30-1 to have the moniker of major champion firmly attached to his name.
Is it too early for him to win his first major? We don’t think so. He’s finding his way into the world of pro golf just fine, thank you. He went from winning his first event at an alternate field tournament at the Barracuda Tournament in 2019 to winning a full-field event, the Workday Charity Open, last month.
Don’t forget, he also has four other top 10s this year and has only one MC in his young career of 28 starts. And one final tidbit: He’s a University of California grad and the Berkeley campus is just 30 minutes away from Harding Park, so it’s a home game for this rising star.
But don’t dismiss Koepka at 10-1. He’s definitely worth a look. When there’s a major on the schedule, those are his weeks to shine. With his win total in majors rising, he’s tough to count out.