Bigly (if I am using that correctly). Significantly. Props to Chamblee for qualifying but qualifying is one thing and contending is another. The nod goes to Watson and it’s not really close. Adding to that Brandel’s qualifier was just 18 holes. Tom Watson contended into Sunday! These two are really not quite comparable. Watson’s was far far more impressive.
Sleeper: Kyle Stanley. I had Stanley locked in as a sleeper last week; his runner-up finish at Firestone makes him slightly less sleepy but I like the way his ballstriking sets up for Bellerive. Plus there’s the added potential bonus of Stanley completing the Former Nike Staffer Without a Club Deal Grand Slam.
I think they’re the best European team since…2012? Sure the Molinari win coupled with Rose and Rory T2 made them all feel nice and cozy. But there’s something I’d really like to stress about Ryder reactions to individual eventsThey’re not that connected! It’s natural to get excited when that happens but it means next to nothing for how they’ll play in Paris.
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.
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.
He oversaw the process that moved the PGA Championship to May which is surely better than August (but not nearly as good as late February/early March in my opinion). I think he and his board way overreacted to one ill-advised but meaningless tweet by former PGA president Ted Bishop.
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.
I guess the movement of the PGA Championship to May will be what we remember him for in the immediate future. As for the next person up I’d hope to see that certain sites that have hosted the PGA in the past don’t get completely nixed because of that deal. I’m biased and really enjoy Whistling Straits.
I’ll always think of him as a savvy negotiator (witness the mega-TV contract he nailed down for the Ryder Cup with NBC). In terms of challenges there’s the matter of boosting the PGA Championship to the status of something more than the afterthought major and of finding the right venues for the newly rejiggered schedule.
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.
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.
The U.S. seems strong but it’s worth mentioning that a few guys who look like solid bets to be on the team — Bubba Webb and Tiger to name three — haven’t had much success in the event. I think it’s a coin-flip as most Ryder Cups are these days. But in the meantime keep talking Monty! It only adds to the anticipation.