This week the Tour gears up for the final major of the season, the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. It promises to be a well contended one, with so many players coming into this week on the back of recent wins or improvements in form. As well as the strong American contingent of golfers, there is also an incredible international challenge from in form players such as Hideki Matsuyama and Rory McIlroy.
Top 5 Picks for the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow
Here are my top 5 picks to win the Wanamaker Trophy this week:
- Hideki Matsuyama:
Matsuyama is in some seriously ominous form coming into this week. He obliterated the field with a nine-under final round 61 at the WGC Bridgestone last weekend to cruise to a five shot victory at Firestone. Matsuyama also leads the FedEx Cup Rankings and sits at number three in the World Rankings. He ranks in the top five on Tour in Greens in Regulation Percentage, birdie average and scoring average, all-important qualities in a major. He has not finished outside the top 15 in majors this year, and this could be his moment.
Spieth followed his gritty Open victory with a solid T13 at the WGC Bridgestone, although he didn’t challenge for the title. Quail Hollow is a course that lays emphasis on driving fortitude, a quality that Spieth seems to lack. However not many can match his mental toughness and ability to save shots in and around the greens. He leads the Tour in scoring average and the chance to become the youngest player to complete the grand slam could push the world number two to victory.
It remains hard to believe that Fowler has still not won a major championship. He has had another solid year on tour with a victory at the Honda Classic and a good year in the Majors. It may finally be time for him to win on the course that he won his first PGA Tour victory in the Wells Fargo Championship. Fowler will be familiar with the layout, although it has changed a bit. The course will also suit his game. He is coming off the back of a solo ninth at the WGC Bridgestone so is in form to win.
Rory McIlroy successfully made the transition to his new caddie at the WGC Bridgestone, hitting some form to challenge for the title at stages last week. McIlroy has traditionally had success at Quail Hollow, the site of his first PGA Tour Victory. He shot a final round 62 to clinch the title, and on a course that suits him, it does not seem improbable that he could do it again this week at the PGA Championship. Coming off the back of two back to back T5’s McIlroy could finally be hitting the form that has eluded him all season.
World number one Dustin Johnson has been a shadow of the man that dominated the game of golf before his fall at the Masters in April. He has fallen to third in the FedEx Cup rankings but remains a formidable competitor. A final round 66 injected some form into his game. A course like Quail Hollow, which places an emphasis on good driving, should suit his game. He still leads the Tour in strokes gained–total. Should he find his groove he will surely win.
Under the Radar:
These players have not had the best form coming into the 2017 PGA Championship. Should they discover the form that has led them to wins this season they will be a threat at Quail Hollow.
Koepka has been quiet since his U.S. Open victory at Erin Hills. He still has nothing worse than a top 20 in his two starts since. It is not the form that people expect from the U.S. Open Champion. He did build his U.S. Open victory on long and accurate driving, both of which will be crucial at Quail Hollow. If he hits that form expect him to challenge for the title.
Thomas Pieters has had an average season this year on the PGA Tour. His best performance this year at a Major has been his T4 at the Masters. He has eased into some form and is slowly building a presence on the biggest stages. A great performance at the WGC Bridgestone preludes this week’s major. The Belgian needs to step up a gear to be a force on the major stage.
Justin Thomas has endured a poor run of tournaments after a great performance at the U.S. Open. Thomas missed three consecutive cuts before a T28 at the WGC Bridgestone. He possesses all the components of a good game. Should he tap into his incredible driving prowess expect him to contend this week.
The defending champion has had a pretty poor season on the PGA Tour. He has had only one top ten and no wins. He showed a glimpse of form at the WGC Bridgestone, leading after the first two days. Should Walker rediscover the form that clinched him the Wanamaker Trophy last year, he will be tough to beat at Quail Hollow.
The 2015 winner has had a very disrupted season this year. Back injuries and family issues have prevented him from tapping into his best form. This has translated into poor performances at the majors. His best finish was a T22 at the Masters. Should be rediscover the incredible driving accuracy and tee to green game that underpinned his victory in 2015, he will be a serious force.
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