The will be seven Australians at the PGA Championship this week; can any of them go home with the PGA Championship trophy?
The 99th PGA Championship begins at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina this Thursday and there will be seven Australians in the field of 156 players hoping to get their hands on the Wanamaker Trophy.
FoxSports will have the live coverage of the PGA Championship into Australia beginning in the early hours of Friday morning.
The 2017 PGA Championship is unique in that it is being played on a course that regularly hosts a PGA Tour event. Quail Hollow is the regular home of the Wells Fargo Championship (except this year) and so we can get some idea of how well some players may go based on previous performances.
Rory McIlroy has been dominant at Quail Hollow winning the Wells Fargo twice. And both times by big margins.
Unfortunately, there haven’t been any Australian winners at Quail Hollow since its inception in 2003. But the question is, does that rule them out from raising the Wanamaker Trophy on Sunday, as Jason Day did in 2015?
Let’s look at the seven Australians at the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow and see if any of them are a decent chance of winning the final major of the year.
Day has had a rough year on-and-off the golf course. The former world number one has dropped back to seventh on the world golf rankings and is yet to rack up a win. Day’s best finish was a second place finish when he lost in a playoff to Billy Horschel and his best finish at the majors has been a tie for 22nd at The Masters in April.
Day finished in a tie for 9th at Quail Hollow at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship and we know he can fight with his back against the wall like few other golfers. His incredible second-place finish at the 2016 PGA Championship with limited preparation a perfect example. After showing some good signs at last week’s WGC Bridgestone, we can see Day in contention on Sunday this week.
We’re not convinced Scotty is playing enough golf in the lead up to major golf tournaments. Ahead of last week’s WGC Bridgestone event he admitted himself he’s not playing that well. “I just seemed to play OK every week and not threaten anything much.”
This may be Scott’s last PGA Tour tournament of the year with his wife expecting their second child in the coming weeks. Maybe something will click this week and Scott can close out 2017 on a high.
Now here is our sleeper pick of the Aussies this week. Scott Hend is playing the best golf of his career. Indeed since his late 30’s, Hend is just getting better and better with age and has spent most of the last two-years in the world’s top-100 on the back of two great victories on the European Tour in 2016.
While his form this year has been patchy, last week’s top-10 at the WGC Bridgestone was a great performance that should give him a huge confidence boost around Quail hollow this week.
Marc Leishman has been the best finishing Australian at the last two majors. A sixth place finish at The Open and a 27th placing at the US Open shows he is arguably Australia’s best golfer at the moment and can perform on the big stage. While Leishman has yet to chalk up a top-10 finish at the PGA Championship a good opening round could set him up for something special this week.
Young Aussie Cameron Smith isn’t coming into this major in the best form. The 23-year-old has missed four of his last five cuts and his lone top-10 finish came at the Valero Texas Open back in April. Smith’s troubles have come largely off the tee and needs to straighten up the driver to get into contention this week.
Rod Pampling has struggled since his magnificent victory at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in November last year. A decent result at the RBC Heritage in April looked to have Pampling back on track but poor form around the greens has meant it’s been a lean year. So far.
Stuart Deane is director of golf at UT Arlington in Texas and is in the field courtesy of a great top-20 finish at the PGA Professional Championship last month. Deane, formerly from Brisbane is no stranger to major championship golf. He also played in the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla and has his eyes set on not just making the cut this week but as he told the UT Arlington Mavericks website, he’s shooting for a top-30 finish.
If you want to know more about Stuart Deane, check out his chat with the team from Inside The Ropes from earlier this year.