The 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club is filled with a lot of intriguing and interesting storylines. So, to catch you up, here are 5 storylines to watch for this week at the PGA Championship at Valhalla.
1. Rory McIlroy’s Quest
Rory McIlroy has a lot going on right now. He has won two huge tournaments in a row – The Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational – retook the number 1 ranking in the Overall Golf World Rankings, is looking for his second PGA Championship and his forth overall major in his career. And at age 25 he would be in pretty exclusive company with four majors championships joining a couple of golfers by the name of Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.
2. Player of the Year Race
While McIlroy is getting all the attention of late let’s not forget just a couple of months ago Martin Kaymer was the toast of the golf world. Before that was Bubba Watson with Jimmy Walker, Matt Kuchar, Patrick Reed, and Adam Scott sprinkled in throughout the year as well. Right now it’s a three horse race and the rest of the pack is still right there. If Kaymer or Watson win the PGA Championship they would have the inside track on McIlroy heading down the stretch.
3. Major-less Golfers
With three majors in the books, Rickie Fowler has been the best golfer in majors this year. After three majors Fowler’s score is 18-under which gives him a seven start head start on McIlroy heading into the PGA Championship.
Sergio Garcia has been agonizingly close so many times that he’s bound to finally get a major, right? Perhaps. And perhaps this is Garcia’s best shot at a major championship. Garcia is in a great state of mind off the golf course and that has carried over to his play this season.
Lee Westwood isn’t having a very good, but like Garcia, Westwood has come close so many times that you can’t help but root for him. Westwood is coming off a good performance last week after finishing T-19 and maybe that will carry over this week.
Like Garcia and Westwood, Henrik Stenson has made the cut in his last 10 majors that he has participated in and in his last five majors he has finished in the top 4. Stenson is banging on the door and he has a great chance this week to finally get that major. Stenson is one of the best ball strikers in the world, Stenson hits it high, long, and right to left. That’s the perfect game for Valhalla. Maybe this will be the week Stenson finally gets that major.
There are a number of golfers that don’t have a major championship in their career, a lot of them that have paid their dues (like Garcia, Westwood, Stenson) and young golfers (like Fowler, Jason Day) that haven’t quite paid as many dues thus far, but given the expectations that are placed on them because of how talented they are they have underachieved thus far.
4. Ryder Cup
Keegan Bradley, Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner, Zach Johnson, Brendon Todd, Ryan Moore, Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson, Reed, and others are not only playing to win a major, but they are looking to earn their way onto the U.S. Ryder Cup team. A number of notable golfers that are on the bubble and that will be very, very interesting to see who makes it onto the team.
5. Tiger Woods
Love him or hate him, whenever Tiger Woods plays he moves the needle. When Woods arrived earlier today at Valhalla the buzz and intrigue got bumped up a couple of notches. As Woods went to play his practice round with Steve Stricker, Harris English, and Davis Love III it felt like a real, major tournament atmosphere…and it was only just a practice round.
Whether or not Woods actually plays well this week is another question, but whenever Woods is in a tournament you always gotta keep an eye on him. With Woods playing with Mickelson (and don’t forget about Padraig Harrington) the crowd surrounding that group will be great to watch.