PGA Championship 2202 Preview
Southern Hills Country Club Par 70 7,556 yards
Previous events hosted this century
2021 Senior PGA Championship
2007 PGA Championship
2001 U.S. Open
Located in Tulsa, Oklahoma Southern Hills is a beautiful course yet a tricky one to master. The course went through a renovation in 2019 making this week fair game to the golfers as it’s not the same course from the 2007 PGA Championship. Some of the trademark trees have been removed, greens have been redone, fairways are wider and there’s been an expansion of creeks to be more in play for the golfers among the changes that have happened. The setup for this week is a strategic one with some short par 4s, two long par 5s over 600 yards, and three of the four par 3s being over 200 yards. There will be alot of risk and reward shots this week and the golfers will have to adjust to a course that is different and challenging. You’ll need a short game to win this week with complex greens that will be fast. Don’t forget about the hot weather as wells in the 80s and maybe 90s.
Tiger Woods’ return
After his inspirational return at the Masters in Apr, Tiger Woods is once again playing a major championship returning to the course he won his 13th major championship in 2007. It’s a whole different golf course but one that’s easier to walk on. Woods said his leg is stronger and his game has looked sharp in the practice rounds. It simply will all come down to if his leg can handle 72 holes of major golf.
No Phil Mickelson
One year ago Mickelson made golf history as the oldest major champion in history. However, things have gone south for Mickelson since then. he will not defend his championship this week opting not to play. Mickelson hasn’t played since the comments he made about Saudi Arabia and it’s unclear when he will make his return.
The Jordan Spieth Grand Slam
Once again we are on grand slam watch this week at a major and this is Spieth’s best chance yet. A win this week means he will join an exclusive list that includes Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Gary Player, etc.
Will Scottie Scheffler’s hot streak continue?
The No. 1 golfer in the world dominated the Masters on the way to his first major championship. His results after suggest a major hangover but this week will be telling if Scheffler will continue to dominate.
Southern Hills in the spotlight
Originally the 2022 PGA Championship was supposed to be held at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster but the PGA of America made the change in Jan. 2021 to Southern Hills meaning a quick turnaround to prep the course for a major. It will be interesting to see how the PGA of America sets up the course and how the players react to it. Either way, the course on paper is fit to host a major championship.
If there’s one golfer due for their first win it’s Zalatoris. He’s proven he can contend at major championships and his putting has improved throughout the year. It should not be a shock if he’s contending on the weekend especially if that putter is hot. Coming into this week Zalatoris has finished T6 or better.
Conners is one of the best ball strikers and iron players in golf. That alone has gotten him good finishes in multiple majors. Last year, Conners held the lead at one point at Kiawah Island, and like Zalatoris if his putter gets hot Conners could have a breakthrough week winning his first major championship.
The Oklahoman gets to play a major in his home state and figures to have the gallery behind him. Gooch did handle the pressure of playing in the Masters well finishing T14. His game is also fit for Southern Hills and the extra motivation of being the home state game could drive him to a good finish this week.
It’s been a breakthrough year for Straka and his game has been consistent since his win at the Honda Classic with a T30 at the Masters and a T3 at the RBC Heritage. One figures he will continue that stretch this week.
Another young golfer to watch who is on the rise. Riley went toe to toe with Sam Burns at the Valspar and has two top-fives in his last two starts. Riley has the game to win a major championship and this week probably won’t be the breakthrough win a good finish is in play if he can handle the nerves.
Lahiri was so close to his first PGA Tour victory at TPC Sawgrass but it wasn’t a fluke with three top-15 finishes since coming into this week. He certainly isn’t shy about playing on the big stage and even played a practice round with Tiger Woods this week.
Young is in a position to win rookie of the year and comes into playing well with a runner-up finish at the Wells Fargo Championship at a tough course in TPC Potomac. He’s got the game and the swagger to get a breakthrough win and should be one of the names to be considered a sleeper to have a good weekend.
Harold Varner III
Varner III has played solid all year with his first win in Saudi Arabia and has been in contention in other tournaments. He showed flashes at the Masters to be able to handle the major stage but his game is built for a difficult course like Southern Hills.
Golfers who could not do well this week
There’s one reason to include him on this list his short game. It’s the weakness of his game and you need to have a great short game to win this week. It will be very hard to find that this week and it could be the reason it holds Hovland back from winning.
The same thing as Hovland it’s all about the short game at Southern Hills. Morikawa ranks 193rd on the PGA Tour with 12 plus rounds played in strokes gained around the green. His putting is inconsistent but he’s risen to the occasion multiple times despite that so it wouldn’t shock me if he contends this week despite the course not fitting his game.
Johnson hasn’t looked sharp since his 2020 Masters win and his form coming into this week isn’t the best. He also got married in between the Masters and this week so a possible hangover could be in play. Either way, Johnson will need to dig deep to return to his past form.
His game hasn’t shown up at Majors despite being a great match-play player and that trend should continue this week.
Finau just simply has not built off of his big win back in the fall despite his T2 at the Mexico Open he simply does not have that extra gear to win a major yet and I’m not sure if that will ever come.
Homa is one of the golfers’ social media loves and a win at the Wells Fargo has his confidence high. However, he’s struggled in majors primarily with his putting, and while he could make the cut this week contending may be bit much for him this week.
11 Hideki Matsuyama
Matsuyama’s ball-striking is always on display at majors including his 2021 Masters win. It also comes out at the most difficult course and we could see it again this week.
10 Shane Lowry
Credit where credit is due. Lowry has proven his 2019 Open Championship win was not a fluke whatsoever. He’s played well all season including a T-3 at the Masters and a T-3 RBC Heritage and his iron game continues to be impressive. All signs point to Lowry contending this week.
9 Brooks Koepka
Has not played since the Masters where he missed the cut which puts him lower on the list. But it is hard to pick against Koepka and a major championship.
8 Xander Schauffele
It’s been a disappointing year for Schauffele as he searches for consistency. However, his fortunes may have changed with a win with Patrick Cantlay at the Zurich Classic and a 61 at the Byron Nelson may get Schauffele back into the major championship picture. After all, he has nine top-10 finishes in 19 starts at majors. So, it’s very hard to write him off as he looks for his first-ever major.
7 Patrick Cantlay
Cantlay has lost two playoffs this year and won the Zurich Classic with Schauffele and the golf word wonders if he’s the next big star to breakthrough and get a major win. Southern Hills would be the perfect place for that if his putter cooperates.
6 Justin Thomas
Thomas just has not performed at major championships for a player of his caliber despite his 2017 PGA Championship. He said he know that and this could be the perfect week to change that. In order to do so, he needs to start well in round one and not player chaser. One thing to watch for was he played last week at the Byron Nelson. Perhaps a change in game plan will finally get him into contention again at majors?
5 Cameron Smith
After his collapse at the 12th hole in the final round of the Masters one may wonder if Smith will put that in the rear view mirror. His game is fit for Southern Hills especially if its windy. And lets not forget that he’s one of the best putters on the tour.
4 Jon Rahm
A win at the Mexico open means Rahm comes in with good form. He is lethal with the driver and around the greens. The only thing that could stop him from winning this week is the putter and the patience of the grind around Southern Hills.
3 Rory Mcllroy
His final round at the Masters was historic and he’s playing well on all accounts. The one thing Mcllroy needs to improve on is starting well so he doesn’t have to chase the leaders. If he can do that watch out for him this week comes Sunday. Oh, and he has to play with Woods something he said he hates because of the “Tiger effect.”
2 Jordan Spieth
Since his missed cut at the Masters he’s won the RBC Heritage and finished runner up at the Byron Nelson. Part of the reason for that is the improvement of the putter, especially with the advice his wife gave him to take his time on short putts. He has a chance to make history this weekend and his short game will be on display throughout. But it all comes down to avoiding the big mistake, putting and handling the pressure this week for Spieth to win.
1 Scottie Scheffler
Just like Spieth, Scheffler is hot with four wins this year. There is no question on whether or not he can contend this week and he said Southern Hills is one of his favorite golf courses. There’s no weakness to currently point out in his game and he’s got the perfect caddy in Ted Scott to help him out. Scheffler is my pick to win this week and continue to his hot stretch which could become a dominant one.
Winner Scottie Scheffler
Holes to watch the closing stretch holes 16-18.
There are so many holes you can highlight at Southern Hills but 16-18 is the main one. Hole 16 is the only reachable par five on this course meaning eagle is in play. Hole 17 is a risk and reward driveable par four. Meanwhile, Hole 18 is a tough closing hole being long in 490 yards This is a stretch where golfers can race into the clubhouse on fire or enter ice cold and could determine the winner.
Winning score prediction -9
Conditions will play a part in the winning score but -9 is a reasonable prediction as the golfers begin their battle with Southern Hills.