by Aaron "1-iron" Garry - 08/03/2005
The year's final major gets underway next week at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, NJ. While "1-iron" has had a ball with the first three majors this year, the curtain call on 2005 promises to be something special. The field for this years edition of the PGA is sizzling-hot as 97 of the worlds top 100 players have their name in the hat. The leaderboard should shape up as the "who's-who" of professional golf by late Friday, and by Sunday, we may just have a good old fashioned slobberknocker on our hands between the world's best.
The major story developing for the 87th PGA Championship is the disappearance of Ernie Els due to a knee injury sustained while he was on "sailing holiday." Wow. While this is bad news for Els, it's terrific news for the rest of the field who surely would've had to contend with a man who dominates on old-fashioned, American, US Open-type golf courses.
Another interesting subplot will be the golf course itself. The par-70 course for this championship will play at 7,392 yards. It will have two par 4s over 500 yards, and it will feature the par 5, 17th that will be played at 650 yards. Par on the front will be 34, while on the back it will be 36 which is highlighted by a back-to-back Par 5's finish. In order to win this week, you better be long.
One other point to mention. It's sad to me that the USGA will probably frown on Baltusrol hosting a PGA Championship. Possibly to the point where they never bring the US Open back to Springfield. As the USGA hangs it hat on Bethpage, Pebble, and Pinehurst year after year, it's sad that some of the great courses of this country will be unable to host another US Open simply because of the inferior looks the USGA gives to the PGA Championship. Medinah hosts the PGA next year, and it's a safe bet to say that we won't see the 2015 US Open being held in Chicago, unless it returns to Olympia Fields.
18 Shots -- PGA Championship Odds and Picks
6 Who Will:
"1-iron's" No. 1 pick
1. Vijay Singh (13/2): The Defending Champion from Whistling Straits sets his sights on PGA Championship number three this year. He's fresh off a win at the Buick Open and his 2005 campaign has been extraordinary with 4 Wins and 13 Top 10's. He's definitely long enough and "1-iron" expects him to be holding the Wanamaker on Sunday.
2. Michael Campbell (60/1): The US Open Champ is loving the grand stages of Professional golf right now. The Kiwi won the Open at Pinehurst, leads the European Tour Money List (Order of Merit), and finished T5 at the British Open three weeks ago at St. Andrews. He's held off Tiger on the biggest stage, now let's see how he handles the Big Fijian.
3. Tiger Woods (2/1): "1-iron" has him number three this week, but that may be a stretch. He's hitting the ball so well of late. He would love nothing more then to show his critics up by taking his third major of the year. He won back to back PGA's at Medinah and Valhalla in 1999 and 2000, but hasn't won since.
4. Phil Mickelson (12/1): A tough one to judge. Hasn't played much competitive golf since the British Open, even though he's playing the International this week. In any major, mistakes will kill you, and Phil makes a lot of mistakes. However, he's long enough and has an amazing short game. It would be foolish not to call him a contender, plus, he's proven he can win on the big stage.
5. Chris Dimarco (40/1): The man who is making a career out of finishing second in Major Championships is back for another shot at the Wanamaker Trophy. Dimarco staged a dazzling duel with Tiger Woods at Augusta in April, and finished runner-up to Vijay in the PGA last year at Whistling Straits. "The Claw" will be making a lot of putts, but will they be for birds or for bogeys at Baltusrol? He's starting to play well, and will be there come Sunday.
6. Tim Clark (60/1): Number 23 on the money list looks to make a splash at Bethpage. "Little Timmy" Clark (as Johnny Miller called him) has finished T39, T3, T23 in the years first 3 majors, and he's got 10 Top 25's on the US Tour. Also has two wins on the European Tour. He's got all the tangibles to win the PGA.
6 Who Can:
7. Retief Goosen (15/1): Electric Personality! The 2-time US Open Champion and Saturday night leader of the 2005 US Open looks to capture his first PGA Championship. Goose is long enough, but he's now melted down twice in a row in Majors. First at Pinehurst with that abhorrent 81 on Sunday, and at St. Andrews with 74 on the final day. I don't think the "1-iron" is the only one who's concerned.
8. Darren Clarke (40/1): He's having a tremendous year playing both tours and got a lot of points with the column by skipping the US Open to attend to his sick wife. T15 in the British, T17 in the Masters and sits 12th on the European Tour Order of Merit. All the tools are there, but his head needs to be screwed on straight come Sunday.
9. Stuart Appleby (75/1): Doesn't get a lot of attention from the "1-iron" but something about Baltusrol makes him appealing this week. The 2005 Mercedes Championship winner sits 56th in Total driving and is a sleeper pick to perform at Baltusrol. Appleby doesn't have a particularly good record at the majors this year, going T43, Cut, T41 this year.
10. Mark Hensby (60/1): Here's a money guy this year. Take a long, hard look at Hensby before you place your bets. The Aussie has played nothing short of FANTASTIC this year in the Majors. T5 at Augusta, T3 at Pinehurst, and T15 at St. Andrews. He also won the Scandinavian Masters last week in a playoff over Henrik Stenson.
11. Fredrik Jacobson (Field 6/1): Played dreadful golf at the beginning of 2005, but has turned it around and is showing signs of his 2004 form when he looked poised to compete for Major Championships. His 10th place finish at the Western Open against a solid field gave the "1-iron" some insight into picking him high this week.
12. Nick Dougherty (Field 6/1): If you've never heard of him - don't worry. That's why the "1-iron's" got your back. Just what the world of golf needs, another "Nicky" to go with Price, Faldo, O'Hern, etc. Well, this one might turn out to be the best of the bunch by the time it's all said and done, and you shouldn't take that loosely. He's 23, stands 18th on the Euro Order of Merit, and won the Caltex Masters this year. Luke Donald better watch out, because this is another young Englishman looking to dominate the world set.
6 Who Won't:
13. Fred Funk (100/1): He may be straight enough, but this golf course is going to play too long for the Chicken-Hawk. He's had a nice year, but there's a huge discrepancy between his accuracy and his distance off the tee. He's 3rd in Accuracy, but 185th in distance and accuracy is generally not at such a premium in PGA Championships, where the rough isn't nearly as penalizing as in US Opens. He may be able to get it around in a couple under par, but when it takes 10 or 11 under to win, that's back of the pack.
14. Padraig Harrington (40/1): Skipped the British Open due to the death of his father and probably lost a bit of continuity with the season. He was playing very well before all of this turmoil (10th on US Money List), but he's a big question mark heading to Baltusrol. I'm personally staying away, but caveat emptor to you all.
15. Charles Howell III (125/1): What a disappointing season from such a young talent. He almost pulled the Damian so far this year (Missing the cut in every major), but he salvaged it with a T75 at the US Open. He's not a threat these days and "1-iron" will treat him as such until he sees fit.
16. Craig Parry (Field 6/1): T25 in the Masters and we thought we were on our way this year. However, he's missed his last four US PGA Tour cuts including the US Open and the British Open. He does have a Euro win at the Heineken Classic, but it would be a big shock for the little guy to finish high this week.
17. Pat Perez (Field 6/1): This powder keg could explode at any time. He's missed 6 ugly cuts, but has 3 nice Top 10's. I'm picking him as one of the one's who won't due to his lack of major championship experience. He's 35th in total driving though. Reminds me of Costanza when he does everything opposite.
18. Arron Oberholser (Field 6/1): Started out the year so promising, but has struggled since. Has 4 Top 10's including a T9 at the US Open. You would think that would make me give him a big nod at the PGA, but the US Open is so different in terms of the course setup and conditions that it doesn't really compare well against other majors. He hasn't played in 3 weeks but may turn up well at the International. Either way, I smell a low finish at Baltusrol.
E-mail Aaron "1-iron" Garry at firstname.lastname@example.org for more info on these PGA Championship odds and picks.
All PGA Championship odds are approximate, please check Bodog for exact odds.