Senior PGA Championship: 5 groups to watch in Rounds 1 & 2

Rocco Mediate. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Rocco Mediate. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

These 5 marquee groups at the Senior PGA Championship will deliver some outstanding golf and considerable entertainment.

The Senior PGA Championship boasts a cast of golfers who are time-tested champions. It’s the oldest of the five men’s senior majors on the PGA TOUR Champions and has been contended annually since 1937 (with a 2-year break for World War II in 1943 and 1944).

With the exception of a lower age limit of 50, the eligibility requirements are predictable, bringing the best among the senior men together to compete for a share of the $2.8 million purse, an invite to the 2017 PGA Championship, and bragging rights. For most of the field, the bragging rights are probably the biggest incentive.

Trump National Golf Club in Potomac Falls, Virginia hosts the 2017 Senior PGA Championship. It’s a beautiful track, winding along the Potomac River, with bentgrass greens, pennlinks tees and fairways, and a nasty combination of fescue, blue grass and rye grass for the rough. But these guys aren’t likely to tangle with the rough. They’ve all figured out how to stay in the short grass.

Must-See Marquee Group – Round 1: 1:30pm, Round 2: 8:10am

  • Rocco Mediate, Defending Champion
  • Miguel Angel Jimenez
  • John Daly

Mediate is sure to be the straight guy in this group, with Jimenez showing off his incredible physique and Daly maybe playing golf, but maybe not. I do enjoy watching these guys play because they have so much fun doing it. Their version of the game has been honed over years of competition, sometimes successful, other times not so much. But at this point in their careers, golf is a game again to be played and enjoyed, and this group is guaranteed to show us how to enjoy every minute of their first 36 holes.

Back-Up Marquee Group – Round 1: 8:10am, Round 2: 1:30pm

  • Bernhard Langer
  • Jeff Sulman
  • Craig Parry

Langer’s coming in hot. He just won the first PGA TOUR Champions major, the Regions Tradition, and he’s very likely to wipe everybody else off the leaderboard. The Senior PGA Championship is, oddly, one that he hasn’t added to his resume so expect his competitive juices to be flowing. Sulman and Parry are probably going to be tagging along for the ride.

Past Champions Marquee Group – Round 1: 7:50am, Round 2: 1:10pm

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  • Colin Montgomerie
  • David Toms
  • Tom Lehman

Montgomerie won back-to-back in 2014 and 2015 and almost did it a third time, finishing runner-up last year.  Toms won in 2001 at the Atlanta Athletic Club and Lehman in 2010 at the Colorado Golf Club. These guys are all smooth as silk and they’ll give us a 36-hole clinic on short game course management. They all probably have a winning game in their bag as well.

On-the-Hunt Marquee Group – Round 1: 1:40pm, Round 2: 8:20am

  • Jose Maria Olazabal
  • Steve Flesch
  • Kevin Sutherland

Hall of Famer Olazabal, twice a Masters Champion (1994, 1999) and successful Ryder Cup captain for Europe’s stunning 2012 Sunday comeback at Medinah, is likely to be the standout player in this group although all three are on the hunt for their first Champions win. But it’s Olazabal who will teach us some new strategy and tactics tricks if we watch closely. Keep your eye on Sutherland too. He likes to putt.

Vijay’s Marquee Group – Round 1: 1:40pm, Round 2: 8:20am

  • Vijay Singh
  • Corey Pavin
  • Joey Sindelar

Singh is still playing more on the PGA TOUR than on the PGA TOUR Champions and he put on an impressive display of golfing skill at THE PLAYERS. Pavin has a long resume of international victories but only one win on the PGA TOUR Champions, and that came in 2012. Sindelar tends to finish high but is still looking for a PGA TOUR Champions win. Expect Singh to lead and dominate in this group.

Next: Dean and Deluca Invitational groups to watch

Golf Channel begins broadcast coverage of the Senior PGA Championship Thursday, May 25, at 1pm.  Around the Tours provides the full broadcast schedule for PGA, LPGA, and European Tour events.