The 102nd PGA Championship is back in familiar territory being held in August, albeit under unique circumstances
The first major of 2020 is here at last.
The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into the golf calendar, resulting in the postponement of the PGA Championship, Masters and U.S. Open and cancelation of the Open Championship.
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The U.S. Open slid to September and the Masters to November. Now is the PGA’s turn to take the spotlight in a once familiar position in August.
No fans will be allowed on site to watch the 102nd PGA Championship held at TPC Harding Park in San Francisco, California.
The venue has hosted various professional events after its renovation in 2002-2003. That includes the 2005 World Golf Championship-American Express Championship; the 2009 Presidents Cup; the PGA Tour Champions’ Charles Schwab Cup Challenge in 2010, 2011 and 2013; and the WGC-Match Play in 2015. Its next big event is the 2026 Presidents Cup (originally scheduled for 2025).
Harding Park is a municipal course owned by the city of San Francisco. Willie Watson is the architect. He also designed the nearby Olympic Club, which has hosted U.S. Opens.
Prior to the course renovation, Harding Park was a regular PGA Tour stop in the 1960s.
Players this week face a course that expects to have fairly narrow fairways and ankle-deep rough.
Sharp dog legs and fairway bunkers add to the challenge off the tee. There is scattered tree line throughout the course with some room in the rough for shotmakers to do their thing with the right lie.
There is not much water on the course. The bentgrass greens expect to be firm and difficult to hold, particularly out of the rough.
Harding Park measures 7,234 yards for a par 70. It can be extended from the tips to about 7,400.
It appears as if most types of players will have a chance this week, but a complete bomb and gouge approach might be tough to pull off.
Stats to watch include strokes gained off the tee, strokes gained approach, proximity from the rough and par-4 scoring. Long iron play is also important with seven par-4s measuring at 450+.
The field features most of the top 100 in the Official World Golf Ranking. Players who have opted out include Francisco Molinari, Lee Westwood, Eddie Pepperell, Vijay Singh, Padraig Harrington, Paul Waring and Shugo Imahira. Branden Grace is ineligible to play due to testing positive for COVID-19 while tied for second place through 36 holes last week at the Barracuda Championship.
The weather forecast looks dry and sunny, but otherwise challenging. Temperatures will hover in the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit with winds blowing in the teens and even 20s miles per hour.
Perhaps those with success at the Open Championship will fare well in these conditions.
Without further ado, let’s dive in to the top 10 players to win the PGA Championship.