Here are nine things you need to know about the upcoming 2016 PGA Championship at Baltusrol. Hats off to Kyle Porter at CBS Sports for this article.
The final major of the year is suddenly upon us. How in the world did that happen? It seems like yesterday that Jordan Spieth was melting down at Amen Corner and handing his second green jacket to Danny Willett. It’s true though. After this week, we won’t have major championship golf for another eight months and change.
So get yourself in front of a TV (or better yet, out to the course) and enjoy the final four rounds of the major season. In doing so, you need to be well prepared which is why we have created this handy little guide noting nine interesting things you should know about the 98th PGA Championship.
Here they are.
1. Forget the Opens, this is where the scoring is at. St. Andrews, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson aside, the U.S. Open and Open Championship are not necessarily known for their low scores. The PGA Championship, however, is home to some course-burners. At least recently. Five of the last six PGA Championships have been decided by double digits under par including last year’s major scoring record of 20 under, which was tied last week by Stenson. This week could be a little different because Baltusrol plays to a par of 70 and Mickelson won in 2005 with a score of 4 under, but there will certainly be more birdies than at Oakmont for the U.S. Open.
2. The setup at Baltusrol is straight wacky. The scorecard looks like a mistake at first. The outward nine is seven par 4s and two par 3s for a total of 34. Then the second nine is five par 4s, two par 3s and two par 5s for a total of 36. The catch is that the two par 5s are the final two holes on the course, which means we could be in for some serious drama come closing time on Sunday.
3. There are a number of golfers with a chance at history. Oh, let me count the ways. Sergio Garcia and Rickie Fowler are looking to win their first. Rory McIlroy is looking to become just the fourth player with five majors under the age of 40. A victory would mark his third PGA in the last five years. Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson are looking for two in the same year. Jordan Spieth is looking for three in two years. Jason Day is looking for two straight PGA Championships. Phil Mickelson is looking to become the oldest PGA Championship winner ever.
Heck, Steve Stricker could become the oldest major championship winner of any kind this week if he plays like he did at Royal Troon. Needless to say, there is a lot on the line for a wide variety of golfers at Baltusrol this week.
4. Baltusrol is one of 17 courses to host multiple PGA Championships. These are epic tracks, too. Oak Hill, Southern Hills, Oakland Hills, Oakmont and Inverness. Interestingly this will be just New Jersey’s third PGA Championship which will tie it with Colorado, Georgia and Texas for 11th all time.
5. Five of the last six PGA Championship winners won their first major there. The good news for Sergio Garcia just keeps on rolling down. Dating back to Y.E. Yang in 2009, you have Martin Kaymer, Keegan Bradley, Rory McIlroy (twice), Jason Dufner and Jason Day as winners of this event. Solid players and good names, but four of those guys still only have one major. Golf is hard, and nowhere is it harder from a field perspective than at the PGA Championship.
6. A pair of Australians have been the best at recent PGA Championships.In the last five PGA Championships, only two golfers have averaged a top 10 finish in tournaments in which they made the cut (min. three cuts made). Jason Day is averaging an eighth-place finish, and Adam Scott’s average is about 9.5. They are also No. 3 and No. 8 respectively in scoring average and have made nearly $3 million between them at PGA Championships over the last five years. Impressive stuff.
7. No. 1 is up for grabs. And get this, Dustin Johnson doesn’t even have to win this week to overtake Jason Day for the No. 1 spot in the official World Golf Rankings. Here’s the math from Golf Channel.
Johnson can become the top-ranked player in the world for the first time if he either (a) wins and Day finishes worse than a two-way tie for second, or (b) finishes solo second and Day finishes worse than 28th at Baltusrol.
8. There is a lot at stake with the Ryder Cup. This is the last big chance for players to make a real move up the Ryder Cup standings into one of those coveted eight automatic bids on the United States side. J.B. Holmes did just that at The Open Championship, and he’s now in fifth. The “bubble” right now is as follows with total points on the far right. Remember, only the first eight get in.
9. The PGA Championship is the hardest major. What I mean by this is it has the toughest fields. The most other great players to beat. It is not on the hardest courses in the worst weather, but since 1994 it has featured the most top 100 players in its fields and has eight of the 10 highest point events (according to the Official World Golf Rankings). That McIlroy is on the cusp of having won three of five of these things is nearly unfathomable.