Golf’s final major of the year, the PGA Championship, started yesterday at Atlanta Athletic Club. Unfortunately I was unable to get my predictions post up ahead of time, so I’ve benefited from knowing the results of round one. Nonetheless, my predictions are here – and no Tiger Woods is not included following a dismal 77 on Thursday.
Before this tournament started, I was having an uncharacteristically hard time picking pre-tournament favorites. Atlanta Athletic Club is amongst the major venues I know the least about. Furthermore, the course is crazy long for a par 70 golf course at just shy of 7500 yards – yet David Toms (a short hitter) won the PGA here in 2001. For sake of transparency, I’ll admit that I was planning on making Dustin Johnson my pick. I think he’s due, he’s crazy long, and the boy can putt. In retrospect this was a homer pick on my behalf as I’m a huge Dustin Johnson fan. With a par 70 comes fewer par 5s, which are a major opportunity for Johnson given his length. This may help to explain why Toms was able to be successful here in 2001 – the par 5s play a lesser role than usual on any par 70 layout.
Johnson aside and knowing the results of Thursday’s opening round, I’m going to go with Steve Stricker (the leader), Adam Scott, and Stewart Cink. Stricker deserves a major. In fact, he deserves a couple. This guy is always up there on the toughest layouts, and he’s an incredible putter. I think he’s the guy, similar to Darren Clarke at the British Open, that all of his peers are rooting for. Adam Scott won last week, has a shiny new caddy on the bag, and loads of talent. He’s won the next most prestigious tournament in golf aside from a major (The Players Championship), so we know he can get it done on the big stage. He’s another one of those guys where it’s just a matter of time, and everybody knows it. He’s certainly rocking a case of the “I won the week before jinx,” though. As for Stewart Cink, he bores the hell out of me. That said, he’s a world class player that never gets himself in too much trouble, and like Stricker, he’s among the best putters on tour.
None of those picks are putting my neck out there too much, but it’s a major and I think golf has had more than it’s share surprise major champions as of late.
Which reminds me… mark the date on your calenders – August 12, 2011 – I’m hereby picking Tiger to win the 2012 Masters. There is simply no way he doesn’t.