16 May 2023 | Professional golf |
How to follow the PGA Championship
by Martin Blake
Oak Hill Country Club, Rochester, New York is hosting the 105th edition of the PGA Championship, the second major of the year for men, this week.
It is a storied venue, built by Donald Ross in 1926 during the so-called golden period of golf architecture, and tweaked since, most notably in 2019 when hundreds of trees were removed, the greens enlarged and reshaped, water hazards added and bunkers rebuilt.
A parkland course in suburban Rochester, it is described as “an American classic”.
Ross contracted John Williams, a celebrated doctor, author and arbourist to plant the oak trees at the course, and he would later say when he was asked how many he planted: “I stopped counting at 40,000.”
Many of those have been taken out to give the course a more open feel but at par-70 and 7399 yards, it will present a strong major championship test this week with the lurking danger of Allen’s Creek meandering through the course.
Oak Hill is no stranger to big-time golf; it previously hosted three US Opens and three PGA Championships totalling six majors, plus Ryder Cups and Senior majors. Jack Nicklaus won the 1980 PGA by seven shots at Oak Hill, and Shaun Micheel hit the shot of his life at the final hole to win in 2003.
Australia has pitched seven players into the field with most of them being in good form, especially Cameron Smith who was narrowly beaten in the LIV Tulsa event last week and Jason Day, who won his first PGA Tour event for five years.
Day has been improving consistently for the past six months and as a past winner of the PGA, may well start one of the favourites this week along with the likes of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Scotty Scheffler, Dustin Johnson and Smith.
The Queenslander was planning a rest on Monday in New York as he prepares to back up from his emotional win in the Byron Nelson after a five-year winning drought.
“I’m going to give myself a day off just because of the high that I’m on right now,” he said on Sunday night. “I know over the next few days I’m going to hit a low pretty quick, just from past experience, going from such a high to a low can actually kill your adrenaline. You can come into Thursday kind of sluggish and not really prepared. I have to understand that moving forward. I think things are moving in the correct direction.
“I know that there’s a few things in the swing that I have to talk to Chris (coach Chris Como) about, so we can get it tighter, dispersion becomes tighter, over time the implementation of these small little things I’m thinking about yields multiple win seasons instead of just winning once.”
Day first went to Como a couple of years ago by coincidence; his friend Tiger Woods (also coached by Como) was suffering chipping yips at the time and asked Day over to his Florida home for some advice. When the trio spoke, Day struck up a rapport with Como, and the results are coming through right now.
“He was very quiet, he listened very intently,” said Day. “You could tell he knew a lot about the game, knew it on a deeper level.”
For Day, a former world No. 1, this week’s win was validation of his decision to stick with the game after two horrible years.
“There were definitely times when I thought ‘you know what, I’m done playing the game, just because of the stress it was putting on me, what it was doing to my health,” he said on Sunday. “Mentally I was not there. I wasn’t confident in myself. I honestly felt like I didn’t have the game and maybe I was one of those guys who had a really good career and then injuries kind of hurt me and through the battling of injuries and trying to get back to the top, maybe I was one of those guys who was going to go out that way.”
The seven Australians in the field are Day, Adam Scott, Cameron Smith, Min Woo Lee, Lucas Herbert, Cam Davis and 26-year-old Victorian David Micheluzzi, who makes his first major championship start as a reward for having won the ISPS HANDA PGA Tour of Australasia Order of Merit in 2022-23.
Television coverage starts late Thursday night eastern time on Fox Sports and Kayo Sports. MEDIA TRANSCRIPTS, VIDEO, INFORMATION
Oak Hill Country Club (East course) is an old, established parkland course with plenty of water and lots of trouble at par-70. As the host of six previous majors, it will be up for the task.
$US 15 million
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Scottie Scheffler: Always thereabouts and current world No. 1. Dustin Johnson: Former world No. 1 and winner of the LIV event last weekend. Jason Day: Another former world No. 1 with red hot form as a last-start winner Cameron Smith: Runner-up on LIV last weekend and still one of the hottest in the world in the majors. Jon Rahm: An incredibly consistent run over the past two years has him pushing Scheffler at the top. Rory McIlroy: Amazing to think he has not won a major since 2014; perhaps this is the week.
Cameron Smith Jason Day Adam Scott Cam Davis Lucas Herbert Min Woo Lee David Micheluzzi
Fox Sports and Kayo Sports Thursday (AEST) 11.30pm-Friday 2pm Friday 11.30pm-Saturday 2pm Saturday 11pm-Sunday 2pm Sunday 11pm-Monday 1pm
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