2022 PGA Championship Preview
PGA Championship Preview - Southern Hills Championship Course
Josh Walker for clutchandco.com.au
It’s time for the second major of the year and with it, another Clutch & Co preview as to who I like for this weeks PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club, Oklahoma.
With the field stacked, as you would expect for a major, the stories dominating news headlines heading in have been the withdrawal of Phil Mickleson and the inclusion of Tiger but as usual I’ll dive into the stats that matter and try and predict who will come out on top.
The PGA has been played at Southern Hills before, in 2007 when the champion was Tiger Woods, but it’s crucial to note that the course has undergone a major redevelopment since then meaning you can’t read too much into how things played out that year. Lengthy but with widened fairways and complex greens with runoff will reward a strategically placed tee shot followed up by an accurate approach. Green-side bunkers and the lightning fast conditions that are expected this week will also mean green-side touch will be crucial to fight off any bogeys after a mistake with the approach.
The stats that matter_ Strokes Gained_ Approach to Green - fast and unforgiving, players need to be dialed in with the irons to create birdie chances. Strokes Gained_ Around the Green - a near miss can have a ball run off the putting surface or into one of the many green side bunkers so the ability to scramble and save par is a must. To combat the length of the course a player must also be at least ‘tour average’ in Driving Distance (about 297 yards). Finally, you have to consider recent results and the confidence one can gain from good form. So who does that leave us? Heres my ‘4 to watch’:
The man to beat this year on the PGA Tour and for good reason with four wins already this season he will go in to this week as one of the favourites. Ranks inside the top 25 on tour for both stats that matter along with average Driving Distance meaning his game is suited to Southern Hills and has the form to match.
Top 25 in ‘Approach to Green’ and Top 40 ‘Around the Green’ Xander rarely has a bad week. Bombs the ball off the tee and comes into the event with a T5 and win in his last 2 starts.
Another player who often features in a tournament preview, JT’s world class iron-play will have him around the mark come Sunday as he ranks 5th for ‘Strokes Gained_ Approach to Green’. Also in the top 25 for both ‘Strokes Gained_ Around Green’ and Driving Distance - his game is perfectly suited and coming off a tie for 5th last week should be feeling extremely confident.
Don’t think that this is a token inclusion for my favourite Aussie on tour. Cameron Smith has every right to be a favourite at the PGA, top 10 in ‘Approach to Green’ and top 40 ‘Around the Green’ he should feel comfortable around Southern Hills and despite not quite having the results he did earlier in the year he still finished 21st in his last start and a tie for 3rd at the Masters.
If you’re looking for a smoky selection outside the big names - consider Taylor Gooch or Luke List. Both feature in the top 40 on tour for my stats that matter, hit a long ball and some form. Gooch had a tie for 14th at the Masters and List already a winner in 2022 on the PGA Tour.
With plenty of big names for this group to contend with, no doubt the likes of Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Colin Morikawa and Jordan Spieth will be out to spoil my party and then there’s a “stronger” Tiger who knows a thing or two about winning majors. Either way it’s sure to be a great weekend of golf for viewers, the first round starts Thursday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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