Rory wins and he wins big. Now that was my prediction before the Bridgestone where he had a little Sunday letdown (again) but he’s still my pick. It’s the kind of course McIlroy beats up and as simple as it sounds the guy is due. My sleeper is Keegan Bradley. After a few quiet years he’s playing better this season. Ballstriking game is solid dude just needs to make some putts!
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.
Tiger has about 300 yards left to the green and he opts to lay up with an iron landing safely in the fairway. JT is a few yards ahead of Tiger in the same bunker and also lays up. Rory meanwhile has a lie that is much worse than it looked originally and is forced to lay up as well.
Bubba Watson. It’s been an incredible year for Bubba and it continues this week when he picks apart Bellerive with that pink driver. Sleeper: Hossler has been there all year. He’s shown the ability to play his way into contention at normal Tour stops. I think he avoids the weekend blow-up that has normally followed and bags himself his first top 10 in a major.
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!
At 425 yards No. 1 is one of the shorter par 4s at Bellerive. Rory and Tiger find the fairway while it looks like JT ends up in the left-side bunker. Leaderboard update: Four players are now at -3: JT Rafa Cabrella-Bello Stewart Cink and Rickie who birdied two of his last three holes!
138 yards left for JT. This is a big green with the pin cut on the very back. JT overcooks it just a bit and it hangs on the fringe of the green off the back about 10 feet from the hole.
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.
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.
I’m giving the nod to Scotland but let’s say thisyou can’t go wrong either way. For those of you have never been to either but have been to Bandon Dunes I would say Bandon is more Scottish than Irish until you get to the bar.
Tiger Woods. Plenty will focus on a disappointing finish at Firestone but even this week I saw plenty to be encouraged by. A couple of days of intense practice and we’ll see a dialed-in Tiger in Missouri.
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.