This weekend marks one of the most hyped events on the PGA Tour. The PGA Championship is the second major of the year and it’s been made even more eventful by Tiger Woods’s win at a particularly thrilling Masters earlier this year. He’s back… but the competition is stiff. Here are a few of the players and stories to watch this weekend at Bathpage State Park’s Black Course. And if you’re looking to go watch it in person, we’ve got tickets!
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The Course – Bethpage Black
First off, the Bethpage Black course is an iconic place for hosting the 101st ever PGA Tournament. It’s also one of the few PGA events this season that won’t be excruciatingly hot (though it might be a little chilly and wet). The course is very difficult, known for its length and uneven terrain. No really, behind the first tee, there’s a sign that says, “The Black Course is an extremely difficult course.” In 2002, only one player (none other than Tiger Woods) finished under par, and in 2009, only five did. The Long Island location in May means the weather could also have a say in how tough this course gets. More on that later.
The Tiger Woods Saga
At the moment, Woods is the favorite to win with 8-1 odds. This is kind of his tournament. If he wins it, he’ll tie Jack Nicklaus for the most PGA Championship victories ever, with five. And he’ll get even closer to Nicklaus’s all-time record of 18 majors – Woods currently holds 15.
Tiger’s win at the 2019 Masters broke his drought. It was his first major victory since 2008 in the face of the many who doubted he’d ever make a comeback. Woods didn’t play at Quail Hollow earlier this month so he’s had some time to rest since April, which could work for or against the 43-year-old. But just to give you some background, he did win the US Open here at Bethpage Black once before… though of course that was back in 2002.
The Other Players Who Might Win It
Other names to watch? Jordan Spieth is going for a career Grand Slam with a win here, though he hasn’t won a tournament since The Open in 2017. Rickey Fowler is perhaps the best performing player out there without a major under his belt yet. Englishman Justin Rose and the current world number one Dustin Johnson would also love to hoist the Wanamaker Trophy for the first time this weekend. In addition, 29-year-old Brooks Koepka has been on a roll lately, so don’t count him out – he won this tourney last year and finished second at The Masters this year. But of course, you’ve also got fan favorites like Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson in contention as well.
A Little Drama
Unfortunately, not all of the best players will be out there competing. World number five Justin Thomas has had to withdraw due to a lingering wrist injury, not wanting to push it too soon. The 26-year-old American player explained, “Obviously, as a past champion, this tournament is extra special to me. It consistently has the strongest field in golf and I’m disappointed to not be among those competing this year but I’m optimistic about a return in the near future.”
Another interesting tidbit? The infamous golfer John Daly has been granted the use of a golf cart for this tournament. While the 53-year-old typically plays on the seniors tour (where carts are allowed), he is eligible to participate in the PGA Championship because he’s a past winner. This is the first time since 2012 that a golfer in a major has been allowed to use a golf cart during play (even if it is a roofless one). Daly said, “I hope I don’t get a lot of grief from the fans. My knee is screwed. I had the meniscus cut out. I have osteoarthritis so bad … I can walk up a hill, I just can’t walk down one.”
The weather is also a little tricky. Monday started off miserably, with heavy rain, cold temperatures, umbrellas, and ponchos. Most fans were gone by the afternoon. Matt Kuchar, who is playing in his 54th major championship, remarked, “I think this is the first time I’ve worn a beanie at the PGA Championship.” The forecast looks more optimistic for the weekend, heating up to temps in the 70s, but the players still think the course will play soft – which means the ball won’t bounce much and play will take longer. But hey, that just means more action – more bang for your buck, right?
The tournament starts on Thursday and the best golfers in the world will be there. They’ll play through Sunday at Bethpage State Park, the Black Course, located in Farmingdale, New York. You wanna go?