The PGA Championship will be won by the guy who can best manage the weather that’s in store for Quail Hollow – I see 3 sleepers ready to challenge Spieth.
PGA Championship practice rounds may have been played in shorts and shirtsleeves but that’s not going to be the attire come Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday, or Sunday. Charlotte is smack dab in the crosshairs of a huge front that’s going to bring rain, thunder, lightening, and weather delays to this year’s PGA Championship.
Now, the question is, who’s best prepared to manage the weather? Who are the best mudders in the field?
Take a good look because you won’t be seeing them looking like this again. The field will be breaking out their rain gear before the first round begins Thursday.
Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy may be the big bombers, and the long hitters may have the advantage over the short hitters, but which of the two is more experienced in weather conditions that will have all of us thinking about Scotland rather than North Carolina?
While the ambient daytime temperature may be a little higher this week in North Carolina than Scotland, the fact remains that McIlroy will have the edge over DJ, who may have to wait until next year to redeem himself from that fatal tumble down the stairs that seems to have spoiled his chances for a major championship.
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What about the man who’s going after his career grand slam this week? How will he measure up against the rain and mud and delays that are almost certain to plague the contenders and befuddle the tournament organizers?
If we judge Spieth’s chances based on the recent past, there’s just not much he can’t handle. Anybody who can figure out the complex triangulation of that second shot on the 13th hole at Royal Birkdale on Sunday ought to be able to establish dominion over a waterlogged Quail Hollow.
Jordan Spieth somehow manages to make difficult feats look easy and he may, as the oddsmakers are predicting, be good for the win, but the odds are against him.
Sleepers in the Quail Hollow Field
Beyond DJ and Rors, who’s likely to emerge as a challenger? I’m looking past Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas and even the newly wed Sergio Garcia to two Europeans and a South African who look good to take on Quail Hollow in the rain: Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, and Branden Grace.
Fleetwood’s a scrappy player who doesn’t know how to stop fighting and he has the combination of game and experience to emerge from the pack as the weather wears down mental resolve and physical endurance.
Noren brings an unusual combination of finesse and power to Quail Hollow that will serve him well long after DJ has gotten discouraged and fallen off and McIlroy has stopped trying.
Grace comes to Quail Hollow knowing just how good he really can be, and that’s 80% of success in the game of golf.
Do any of these guys have what it takes to outlast Jordan Spieth, who has that golden ring almost in his grasp? I think we’re going to see them – at least one of them – push Spieth hard. But in the end, look to Spieth to prevail.
Who’s your pick for the PGA Championship? Will Spieth complete the quest he began two years ago or will DJ find redemption for what appears to be a lost season or is there a sleeper lurking who will spoil the oddsmakers’ profits?