If Tiger Woods is going to get his 15th Major Championship this year, he will need to get it done this weekend at the 94th PGA Championship. This historic tournament will get started Thursday morning on the Ocean Course at The Kiawah Island Golf Resort which is located on Kiawah Island, South Carolina.
The Ocean Course is one of five championship layouts at the resort, and is one of two used for tournament play. The 7873 yard , par 72 layout designed by Pete and Alice Dye was opened in 1991. It plays to a 79.7 course rating with a slope rating of 153, and is rated in Golf Digest Magazine’s 100 best courses at 25th. The Scottish style layout has the look and feel of a British Open links course, and with numerous bunkers and Bermuda grass, is also rated in Golf Digest as America’s toughest golf course.
Shortly after it opened, the Ocean Course was the site for the 1991 Ryder Cup, hosted the 1997 and 2003 World Cup,and was used in the 2000 movie “The Legend of Bagger Vance“. The site was named as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” by the Audubon Society.
Pete and Alice wanted to give the golfer a view of the Atlantic Ocean, as well as take advantage of the prevailing winds in the area to give the course some teeth. If the wind does come up, the players will not only need to deal with it on their approach shots, but will need to take care on the greens.
Dye returned in 1997 to make some design changes that would speed up play for the average golfers, and add some additional problems for the accomplished players to deal with. He came back in 2002 and 2003 to increase some of the landing areas and resurface all of the greens. Players wanting to win here this weekend will need to bring their A Game to do so.
The PGA Championship is hosted every year at one of America’s finest courses. 71 courses in 25 different cities have hosted at least one PGA. With more golfers from the top 100 World Rankings, the PGA is one of the most competitive fields of the year. When you hold up the Wanamaker Trophy Sunday evening, you can usually say that you have beaten the best in the world.
The PGA Championship was started by department store magnate Rodman Wanamaker, who thought the tournament would be a way to increase merchandising for products in his stores. In January of 1916, he invited 35 people to a luncheon in New York, including the legendary Walter Hagen, and the PGA as we know it, was born. Wanamaker proposed to the newly formed group, that it need a yearly, all professional tournament. He put up the first purse of $2500 to kick off the event.
Walter Hagan won this tournament five times, and leads the list of prominent players in history who have taken the trophy home. Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have won four times each, but like Sam Sneads drought at the US Open, Arnie never won the PGA. This is the only blemish on his Major Championship record. Arnie finished runner up three times.
There have been some memorable moments at the PGA Championship over the past few years, as you may remember, Dustin Johnson’s loss to Martin Kaymer in 2010, came from not knowing he grounded his club in one of the many bunkers at Whistling Straits. Tiger was denied his fifth PGA by Y.E. Yang in 2009 at Hazletine. This was the first time Tiger Woods had ever lost a Major after having the third round lead. And who could forget the tears in 1997 at Winged Foot when the rainbow appeared after Davis Love III made his final putt on the eighteenth hole. Davis had lost his father earlier that year in a plane crash.
Keegan Bradley, your defending champion at The Atlantic Athletic Club last year, is coming in on a high note after winning a gift from Jim Furyk last week at the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron. Bradley won last year in a playoff with Jason Dufner.
If you are a golf fan, this is your weekend. After the PGA Championship is completed, the fixed rankings for the Ryder Cup will be set. The only thing left will be the Captains picks. Tiger Woods comes in to the weekend leading the FedEx points and money list, Luke Donald still holds a slim lead over Tiger in the World Golf Rankings, and your scoring leader is Matt Kuchar. I would watch for Kucher to play well this week and maybe get his first Major.
Kiawah Island will provide a stern test for anyone looking to take the Wanamaker home on Sunday. It will get very exciting if the wind decides to blow. Who ever holds up the Trophy, will have earned it here.