with Robert Bicknell
Well, another PGA Championship is underway and, as usual, the pundits have been quite active in their predictions and hype. All pointed at stirring up enough controversy to sell more magazines, newspapers and on-line hits. Nothing changes.
As you might expect, Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and, of course, Tiger Woods are the names mentioned most, followed by Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson and Ricky Fowler.
Sigh… nothing changes.
Rory is coming back off an injury and already won the Long Drive contest, so it's anyone's guess to see if he can continue his run at the top. He's always had plenty of game, but romantic troubles seem to follow him and impact his game more than he would like. The injury, while inconvenient and bad enough to keep him out of the Open Championship is also a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to recharge his batteries a bit in time for the PGA. Let's see what will happen, but it would be stupid to bet against him.
Jordan Spieth is poised to become only the third player in history to win three majors in a single year. Again, this is a kid who it would be very stupid to discount. He's got game, he's learned how to handle the media and increased demands on his time. He is very mature for his age so, in my opinion, he's got a very good chance to win the whole thing - providing he stays focused.
Bubba Watson has length and a lot of game. The problem with Bubba is keeping him focused and keeping his temper under control. In some ways, he's a lot like John Daly in that when he starts to play badly he lets the uproar of butterflies upset him and loses focus. If he makes the cut and is near the lead, look for him to hit the afterburners and give it a good run.
Dustin Johnson has length, game and a huge chip on his shoulder. He's still pissed about missing out on the US Open and the Open Championship. He had a realistic chance to win both of them, but just couldn't close the deal. Granted, the US Open was a bit of a crap shoot due to the greens, but he did put himself in position to win or force a playoff and lady luck wasn;t on his side. If he gets close again and doesn't get the job done, he just might begin to question himself and you can count on the media to start with the "snakebit" and "choker" comments, which would be very unfair.
Tiger Woods… Where to begin and end with this saga. He finds his swing, he loses his swing. He feels he's close, he doesn't know what went wrong. The question is "which" Tiger Woods will show up to play in the first round. During the practice round, Tiger felt good but quacked a bit about the mosquitoes.
Yes, you read that right. It wasn't Bubba's butterflies which annoyed him, it was mosquitoes.
Everyone plays the same course and have to deal with the same problems, mosquitoes included. If Tiger is having problems with insects, how can he focus on returning to form and giving Rory, Jordan, Dustin or Bubba a run for the championship?
It's always something with him lately and makes me question if he is truly focused on the tournament or is just going through the motions for sponsors' sake.
We will see…
Ricky, Ricky, Ricky… A kid with a lot of talent, but for some reason just seems quite happy playing for second place. He cannot close the deal when it comes to legitimate majors. Sure, he won the Players Championship, but that remains a faux major and doesn't count except in the minds of US PGA Tour pros. It's not a "major" and many feel it will never be.
I personally believe Fowler has he game to win the big one, but until he believes it himself and is prepared to take some risks in the final round, instead of playing it safe, I just don't see him coming out on top.
The old saw of "play or second and hope the leader chokes" just doesn't apply anymore. There are a lot of players with horsepower out there and they play to win. — VNS