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PGA Championship 2014 Preview

PGA Championship 2014 Preview

PGA Championship 2014 Preview

Rory McIlroy is on fire. Or will another fellow young rival (i.e. Rickie Fowler) finally get over the hump?

pga championship

If the Vegas’ odds are any indicator, I’m unsure whether there’s any need to speculate on who is going to win this week’s PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club outside of Louisville, Ken., (as of Wednesday, 2014 British Open winner Rory McIlroy was listed at 5/1 odds).

pga championship

At more than 7,500 yards, the 2014 Valhalla Golf Course outside Louisville, Ken., is the longest PGA Championship ever.

If there really is such a thing as momentum in sports, McIlroy has tapped into a wellspring of confidence that doesn’t show any signs of dissipating.

Remember, it was just a few weeks ago that everyone, including Jack Nicklaus, wanted to know why McIlroy couldn’t put together two respectable rounds. Was it the equipment change? Could it be that the breakup of his highly publicized engagement was affecting his play?

After a wire-to-wire victory at the British Open, followed by a win at the WGC Bridgestone Championship, Rory appears to have silenced all the critics − even the ones residing between his ears. Fast forward to the season’s final Major, and everyone wants to know if we have crossed an invisible threshold into the “Rory Era.”

This weekend may be the moment we look back on and say, “That’s when the Rory McIlroy-era really began.”

pga championship

Will McIlroy’s wire-to-wire British Open victory last month lead to a 2014 PGA Championship? Vegas thinks so.

But in order for that to happen, the young man from Northern Ireland will need to outplay a strong field devoid of amateurs. If you look back over the list of previous champions since 1999, it reads like a list of living legends and guys that leave you asking, “Where are they now?” But it’s those guys who rarely show up on a Sunday leader board that make the PGA Championship such a difficult tournament to predict.

Remember Rich Beem?

How about Shaun Micheel?

As a tournament of professionals, the PGA Championship seems to be the most wide-open tournament. Maybe.

pga championship

Is Rickie finally ready? He loves the limelight (and lime-colored clothing). Fowler looks poised to take the 2014 PGA Championship.

That said, here are a few guys not named McIlroy that have a shot at ending the Major season on top:

  • Rickie Fowler — Ignore the PUMA Orange for a minute or the zero in the win column for this 2014 PGA Tour season. Fowler still has top-5 finishes in each Major so far this year. He’s the only player this year who can claim that, and, let’s face it, the confident kid definitely looks ready for Prime Time.
  • Jim Furyk — Furyk? Why not? The PGA vet’s won big at Valhalla before (The ’08 Ryder Cup, anyone) But at 7,458 yards, it’s now the longest course PGA Championship history while Furyk is ranked 162nd in driving distance. However, he’s also 6th in accuracy and came in second last year.
  • Hideki Matsuyama – The up-and-coming player is one to keep watching. You can bet everyone else on Tour is keeping an eye out for Matsuyama this year.
  • Justin Rose — The 2013 U.S. Open winner could claim No. 1 in the world with a championship at Valhalla.

A few other notables:

  • Keegan Bradley
  • Sergio Garcia
  • Patrick Reed

 

If you’re wondering why Tiger Woods isn’t on the list… well, let’s just wait and see if he makes it to the first tee Thursday.


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