PGA Championship Preview: Looking Ahead to the AAC

Posted: August 8, 2011 by mceagle611 in Sports
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I will be honest, I cannot remember a non-major tournament with the hype and interest surrounding last weekend’s WGC Bridgestone Invitational; it almost felt like a Major. What more is that I cannot remember two back-to-back weekends in golf that have had so much meaning. Now that the season’s final major is upon us, and the less important weekend is over with, we look forward to what should be a fantastic 4-day event at the Atlanta Athletic Club where the world’s best will be competing for the Wanamaker Trophy and the PGA Championship.

Well, what – or should I say who – is the only reason that this past weekend’s WGC mattered? Oh yeah, Tiger Woods. The man who had not played an event in 12 weeks looked only decent in his return, but after a somewhat stellar round on Thursday Woods seemed to steadily decline – Tiger, however, did finish birdie, birdie, birdie, par in his final round which I think will serve him very well coming into this weekend’s event. He noted that he was hitting the ball well, however his distance control and green play did not suffice for him to contend this weekend.

I want to keep my preview for Tiger short for this preview, so the only other thing I’m going to say is that he did show some moments of his old self early on in the tournament – such as long putts on 9 (for par) and 16 (for birdie) in the first round. It can only be good for the sport if he is in the thick of it this weekend, but for all those that want Tiger to suddenly comeback and win a Major tournament need to remember that these things take time. I believe Woods will be back at the top soon enough, however he needs to find that prowess to his step again – the factor that makes him so interesting to watch…like you believe that he can do anything. Will we ever see that again; let alone this weekend? Only if he is able to control his shots off the tee and back them up by making putts on the treacherous greens.

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Be honest, would have cared that Adam Scott was the winner of the Bridgestone if Steve Williams was not his caddie? All Williams did to help Scott win was read a few putts and change a few of his club selections yet the Media cannot avoid the story that Tiger’s ex-caddie won what was essentially Tiger’s tournament – Woods has won 7 out of 12 of WGC Bridgestone starts. So, I mean it is a great story that Scott won, he came into Sunday’s round with the lead and shot a 65 to win by 4 strokes. Unfortunately he will not receive nearly enough praise for what he executed this weekend because of the man on his bag. So I will pose this question, was the move to make Williams his caddie a bad one for Adam Scott? It truly has come to that. Looking ahead, Scott’s sudden confidence in the putter will prove very useful this weekend, the green’s at the Athletic Club have a high degree of difficulty.

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The other story lines surrounding this weekend involve the play of world number one Luke Donald, so-called golf prodegy Rory McIlroy, and once dominant but rapidly declining Phil Mickelson. Donald, who was runner-up at this past weekend’s event held in Akron, has been questioned for his clutchness and final round play. Tiger had truly set the standard for world number one because he was constantly winning, and do you know that Donald has only 3 PGA tour wins? None of those being Majors…if you ask me he is not worthy – but then I ask myself who really is?

Golf’s golden child Rory McIlroy won his first and only major earlier in the summer – as you may recall – by lapping the field in the US Open after playing like me on the back nine at Augusta (awfully). His performance across the pond was not good at all if we are seriously considering him to be the next Tiger/Jack, and I truly need to see that his short game is good enough to win at a Major this weekend for me to start considering giving him this label.

Finally, Mickelson has really been torn apart by the media after his comeback in the final round of the Open Championship against Darren Clarke, saying that he has drastically changed from only a year and a half ago when he won the Masters after an emotional weekend. He really needs to improve his length off the tee this weekend, I mean – quite frankly – there are some long ass par-4’s at the AAC.

I downloaded the PGA Championship application for my iPod Touch just last night, and after I took the flyover tour of the course I was astonished at what they are going to have to face this weekend. I mean there is a significant amount of water facing the players on their approach to the green and bunkers that force you to alter your tee shot. The signature hole of the course – coincidentally the hardest too – is the par-4 18th hole where the fairway and green are separate by a huge body of water. It’s going to force players to likely lay-up to wedge it onto the green, unless their drive puts them in a good position. Finally a good portion of the tees are playing farther back than they were in 2001 when David Toms won the PGA, so good luck field! They are going to need it because this 7,613 yard course is a monster!

I always conclude my previews to Major events with bold predictions…so here they are.

Winner – None of these guys that I have mentioned in here will do it. However I think another Aussie is bound the win this weekend, and that is Jason Day. He’s been close a couple of times and he is ready to break through.

Winning Score – I believe the winning score is going to be a 13-under (267)..simple as that.

Hole-in-Ones – Here’s a bold prediction, there will be one hole-in-one this weekend by Ryo Ishakawa on the par-3 17th…but not on the front-side pin location.

Lowest Round – I’m thinking, if Woods contends then he will have the low round on Sunday. Otherwise I’m going to say that Rickie Fowler will have the low round on Friday at 63. This golf course is not going to give up shots but I believe that he may contend for the Championship and place the ball perfectly.

The Question that everyone wants to know…will Tiger contend – It really depends, if he can control his distance and put the ball in the fairway then yes. Otherwise the answer is no.

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  1. […] between the Players and the Finishing Four Holes at Atlanta Athletic Club – Referred to as “The Hardest Four Finishing Holes in Golf” possibly thousands of times this weekend holes 15-18 did not disappoint. It’s where […]

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