"Last Shot at Glory." That's what they used to call it. They also used to play it in match-play format. Whatever the past is, the current is the PGA Championship, the year's 4th major hosted by the PGA of America. This is not to be confused with the PGA Tour. Instead, this is the association of working pros... those guys who run the local muni, who get side money off of running the golf carts, the guys/gals who are the face of your local country club and have a certification to justify it. Teaching pros, not playing pros. That means that 20 slots in the field are open to teaching pros who happen to qualify through tournaments specifically designed to find the best players amongst teaching pros in the US. The rest of the field is the world's best, which include many former Georgia Bulldogs (who we'll get to in a moment).
They return to Whistling Straights, just north of Sheboygan, WI and 15 miles east of Rockville (don't go back there). It's on the shores of Lake Michigan with Seven Mile Creek meandering through the property. A former waste dump, and before that a WWII military base, the famed designer Pete Dye pushed some dirt around and planted some grass and made a helluva golf course. They held the PGA here in 2004, and again in 2010, to rave reviews. Well, rave reviews from all but Dustin Johnson. DJ was the victim of a malicious ruling concerning waste areas and bunkers and was assessed a deflate-gate-like penalty, thus moving him out of the eventual playoff. That playoff was won by Martin Kaymer who defeated our dear Bubba Watson. So while some may say that Bubba can only win at The Masters, remember that he beat the world's best but one at a links-style course in the upper Midwest. The course is long at 7,500 yards and a par 72 (the PGA likes par 72, just as much as the USGA likes par 70).
There are a few non-UGA storylines... like you really care. But I'll play nice and let you know of a few of them. One is the aforementioned return of Dustin Johnson to the site where he was robbed. And the fact he's thrown away a couple more majors as well, including this years US Open at Chambers Bay. Speaking of which, Jordan Spieth tries again to win a 3rd major having already won The Masters and the US Open this year. Zach Johnson won the Open Championship last month and could help the US win all four majors in the same calendar year for the first time since 1982. Yep, that's right, American golfers have not won all four majors in the same year since before Marty Feldman died. Tiger Woods has had some bright spots of late, and his performance here will dictate if he tries to qualify for the FedEx playoffs. And Rory McIlroy makes his return to golf after an ankle ligament sprain playing pickup futbol (whatever that means).
One interesting thing is that they have a long-drive contest on Tuesday before the tourney starts. This was a long-held tradition but was only resurrected last year after falling dormant. You might remember that Bubba Watson didn't particularly care to participate, but he did this year and that's one less thing people can complain about.
But you're at DawgSports, and that means you want to know how the Red & Black will fare and when to watch them. Oooooh... watch me, watch me! (Sorry, I have teenagers at home.) Here's who to root for, with their first round tee time, and Official World Golf Ranking and FedEx Cup ranking respectively:
Russell Henley (52,38) 7:15 am CT. Russell has played 20 events this year and finished in the top 25 in half of them, missing only 3 cuts. He's due for a big win.
Bubba Watson (3,2), 7:45 am CT. He's only missed 2 cuts all year (US Open, Open Champ.) and has finished top 10 in 7 of his 14 tourneys.
Harris English (85,46), 7:55 am CT. His world ranking has plummeted this summer, but he's not doing badly. He's just not doing goodly enough.
Brendon Todd (48,50), 8:35 am CT. Made the cut in 18 of 22 tourneys with 4 top 10s and $1.8M in the bank.
Brian Harman (76,66), 8:45 am CT. The "other" left from UGA, he's had 3 top 10s so far this year.
Todd Kisner (35,16), 1:50 pm CT. Six top 10s and 3 second place finishes really pushed Kisner into "brand name" territory this year.
Chris Kirk (24,27) is qualified via his world ranking and tournament wins, but is still out with a broken hand. He hopes to return in 2 weeks for the FedEx Cup playoffs.
TV coverage is a bit different, as CBS gets the main feed but TNT and Ernie Johnson get the weekday coverage. It starts Thursday at 2:00 pm ET and will run into the dark hours. Same for Friday. Saturday and Sunday, TNT gets the party going at 11:00 am ET, and CBS spins it up at 2:00 pm ET each day until end of play.