Tiger Woods. Why not? He’s excelled at hot-weather PGA Championship venues with four victories. With the forecast for St. Louis as hot and muggy all week it favors Tiger. Tiger loves brawny 1960s-style courses with eight wins apiece at Firestone Torrey Pines and Bay Hill alone.
On 14 McIlroy misses the fairway to the left in another patch of snarly rough. JT and Tiger are OK. And Tiger misses it on the high side. Safely in for par though. Rory drops it from 12 feet for his first birdie. JT blasts from the sand to tap-in range. Woods next…
Next up is the one par 5 on the back nine. JT misses left his first missed fairway of the day. Rory also misses left but finds a decent lie in the rough. He’s still -1 on the day. Tiger hits driver like the others and also finds the bunker on the left side of the fairway. An inauspicious start on this par 5 for our trio.
I’m not saying I agree with it but Bryson would be particularly easy to leave off as “a poor team fit” if he doesn’t auto qualify right? Although he’s a particular favorite of assistant captain Woods. Xander Schauffele should also be sure to lock his spot in; a lack of seniority may have him on the outside looking in otherwise.
The level of play across professional golf is higher now than ever; from a very literal perspective these players are likely the best the European side has ever seen. But in terms of team dominance? Nah. The U.S. squad is loaded and deserves to be the favorite as long as it can figure out a couple of the trickier team pairings.
All things considered Rory hits a very well-executed flop to set up a 18-20 footer for par. So Rory is actually WAY over the green into the gallery. He’s taking a free drop now. Will be a tough shot to a short-sided pin.
Tiger has showed this year that his best golf is good enough but he has been unable to string together four straight strong rounds. Is it mental fatigue? A back that is balkier than he will let on?
No. 18 is a dogleg left. No birdies thus far today. Tiger and JT find the fairway while Rory loses his drive in the rough on the right. Tiger drains a testy little five-footer for par and JT and Rory clean up too. On to the 18th.
I guess the question of “Who is the favorite?” on a weekly basis will become only more meaningful in an era of broad betting interest in golf. It’s not like picking horses. Having said that Woods’s past success at Firestone is not any kind of predictor of whether he can win this week.
Sleeper: Kevin Na. Yes he only has two top-10 finishes in major championships over the course of his career but he’s having a stellar season with a win at the Greenbrier in July and three other top 10s. I like him!
Are they all pulling the same direction in the grow-the-game efforts? There’s a lot of good happening in that organization but with that membership number there’s plenty more to be done. They should be one of the most powerful and influential forces in the game. At this moment I’m not sure they are.
From the front bunker Rory hits a zipper that scares the flag but backs up to about 15 feet. He’ll have that for a par saver. Woods knocks his 3rd onto the front of the green but he’s going to have about 30-40 feet to save a par. Meanwhile up ahead Mickelson managed to save a par. No. 10 looks like it has some teeth: the hole has produced 14 bogeys and 10 pars so far.