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.
I’ve only played Scottish links so that’s my answer. Then again even if I’ve played in Ireland my last two rounds were at Royal Aberdeen and St. Andrews’ Old Course. I’m flying high on the Scotland variety right now.
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…
Gooood morning golf fans! The sun is out the rain is gone and players are on the course at the PGA Championship. We’ll get the blog rolling at 9:15 ET with two power groups: Phil Mickelson-Jason Day-Keegan Bradley (9:01 ET) and Tiger Woods-Rory McIlroy-Justin Thomas (9:23). See you shortly.
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.
The first seven names in the current standings will be on the team even if any of them somehow get bumped out of the top eight. Tiger and Phil are locks too so that leaves three spots.
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.
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.
He hits a rising bullet that escape the trees…only to hook hard and re-enter the trouble farther down the fairway. Thomas and McIlroy find the green inside 20 feet for birdies. And now another Tiger escape shot coming.
On the 241-yard par-3 16th McIlroy and Thomas find the green but not close to the hole. Woods overcooks and iron long and left and it settles next to the grandstand. Thomas kicks in his third birdie of the opening nine and he’s tied for the lead and looking totally in control. McIlroy pars to stay -1.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit Scotland several times but have only hit Ireland once. I just love the history and the quirkiness of the old Scottish links. They’re an absolute blast. But Ireland’s sweeping dunescapes took my breath away. It’s a tough call. To make it I need another trip overseas for more research.
I wouldn’t be worried about Tiger’s fatigue this week. It’s the last major of the year and Tiger’s attention will be squarely placed on attacking Bellerive. He can take his foot off the gas at the Northern Trust and nobody will hold it against him…