I’ll never give up on McIlroy. I think the PGA is likely harder for him to get up for than say the Masters but I expect that fact will serve him well in St. Louis.
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!
Not the favorite. I’ll go with Dustin Johnson for that distinction. I’ll be looking for his “control” again this week. He had it at Carnoustie not making a double bogey until the back nine Sunday. If he can avoid double bogeys for another long stretch I’ll start believing he can contend at the PGA.
Sleeper: Muscular Kiwi Ryan Fox is one of the biggest hitters on any tour and when he keeps it in the park he can contend anywhere. Quietly he’s climbed to ninth on the Race to Dubai points list and 80th in the OWGR thanks to a playoff loss at the Irish Open and a T6 at the Scottish Open.
So as we make the turn to No. 1 Tiger is at +2 JT remains tied for the lead at -3 and Rory is at even par. All right! Tiger drains his birdie to get back to +2 through his first nine. JT misses his birdie and settles for par and Rory takes a bogey.
Woods and Thomas are safely on this par 4 but outside 30 feet. Rory from 115 yards with a little tree trouble…and it’s a flyer that stays on the green maybe 30 feet above the hole. No great birdie looks from the group here.
…and he take a lash with the driver but his shot also drifts right into the deep rough. The feature group is underway at Bellerive. Thomas is up first hitting driver…and he splits the fairway. Rory is next: another driver and it leaks into the right rough. And now Woods…
It’s Tony Finau time. He’s been knocking at the door in the majors and now he comes to a big straight-forward layout that favors bombers and an event that has no par-3 tournament for him to wreck his ankle in. Sleeper: Luke List. Putting is his historical weakness but he’s been rounding into form and is coming off a strong showing at Firestone a course that plays not unlike Bellerive.
Rory has drifted a bit the past few years. Some of it was injury some of it was probably life changes off the course. But this PGA sounds like a big tough course that may play a little rain-softened. That’s straight out of the old Rory major-winning playbook. I think he’ll be part of the story this week.
There’s a legal term for thissplitting the baby. It’s a bad compromise that will be a mess to enforce. The USGA shoulda just banned all green-reading materials whole-cloth.
Justin Thomas meanwhile pars the 16th to remain -3 and tied atop the leaderboard with Stewart Cink. Greetings folks. Jess Marksbury with you for the next two hours. And I’m just in time for another Tiger bogey on the par-3 16th. Bummer. He falls to +3 for the day.
Not sure if he’s fatigued but in this comeback Tiger’s best opportunities to win come at courses where he can hit fewer drivers and play tactical golf. I don’t think Bellerive is that kind of track. He can win again if his health holds and he stays on his current path but this doesn’t feel like the week.