DJ's time to double up? NCG predicts the PGA ChampionshipMay 16, 2019 The Scoop
The NCG team put their heads together to predict how things will pan out at Bethpage, including Dustin Johnson's bid for a second major
Who will win the PGA Championship at Bethpage Black? We’ll get to that, but first…
Any outsiders we should keep an eye on?
Steve: Jason Kokrak has been one of the most consistent performers on the PGA Tour this year and, yet, he’s 175/1. You can read more about why I like him right here.
Mark: I was going to say Tony Finau but I’m not sure he can be classed as an outsider any more. You could probably say the same about Webb Simpson but I’ll sneak him in here anyway, he barely seems to put a foot wrong these days and is unrecognisable from the player who is a bit pipey and a bit anxious on the biggest stage.
Dan: Gary Woodland is having a very good season, is a seasoned major campaigner and finished T6 at last year’s PGA. There’s no doubt that Bethpage is going to favour the more powerful players.
Alex: Ryan Moore hits fairways and finished T7 here at the Barclays in 2016. That’s good enough for me to stick a quid on him.
Hannah: Aaron Wise had a great final round on Sunday at Augusta to climb into the top 20 and show he can compete in major championships.
Harvey: Bethpage is recommended ONLY for highly skilled golfers, add an underdog to that and you get Emiliano Grillo. Two runner-up finishes on tour this season and he gave it a good go at TPC Sawgrass. You’ve been warned.
Joe: Julian Suri’s worst finish on the European Tour this season is T20 and he finished T19 in his PGA Championship debut last year.
And who will be the surprise flop?
Alex: Not a lot would make me happier than Jordan Spieth completing his Grand Slam and shoving it down the throats of his critics. But it’s just not there at the moment, so I think he’ll miss the cut.
Mark: I think there will be lots of good things ahead this year for Rory McIlroy but maybe not this week. It all seems very close time wise to Augusta and in my head I see Rory producing his best stuff at the US Open. Sure he’ll make the cut but otherwise will be a bit of a sideshow. All being well I’m way off the mark here.
Harvey: I just don’t see Justin Rose finding the fairway this week. He hasn’t looked comfortable off the tee since Augusta and think that will be his Achilles heel. Knowing Rosey (we did share a man hug after the Ryder Cup) he’ll still make a Sunday charge.
Steve: I’m going to wager that the scars will run deep for Francesco Molinari. After missing out on the Masters in such heartbreaking fashion, he looked very lethargic at Harbour Town and hasn’t been seen since. It’ll be a tough ask to get up for this.
Joe: Not even his supreme ball striking will save Molinari.
Dan: I’m not convinced by Bryson DeChambeau’s current form and that was evidenced by his rapid slide down the Masters leaderboard. And while I would love to be proved wrong, over a long period Paul Casey has failed to perform at his best when most fancied in the majors.
Hannah: Patrick Reed has won on this course before but hasn’t been in great form recently.
So who will win the PGA Championship?
Dan: I thought Koepka was hugely impressive at the Masters, and could very easily have got in a play-off with Tiger Woods. It’s getting to the stage where it’s just foolish to ignore his prospects in the majors because his record his so good. On paper, Bethpage should be just his kind of challenge. I very rarely back anyone to defend a major successfully but Koepka isn’t really playing by the rules so I’ll make an exception here. He’s posted 13 top 25s, including eight top-10s and three wins, in his last 14 majors.
Steve: I’m drawn to Koepka like a moth to a flame. It surprised me that he didn’t win the Masters, he has become so good at closing out a major. He won’t make the same mistake again.
Joe: Koepka is simply too good to overlook in a major at the moment.
Mark: Surely to god Dustin Johnson will double up at some point and this is hardly not going to suit his game. Maybe more than even Rory he’s got the skills to blow the field away, at Augusta we barely saw him and he nearly got over the line. I’ve got a strange feeling that he’ll end up with a career Slam but with just the one victory in each, which would be very DJ.
Alex: DJ vs. BK down the stretch on Sunday, with the former prevailing. It is a nonsense that he only has one major.
Hannah: Jason Day already has a PGA Championship victory under his belt from 2015. A top-10 at the Players followed by a top-5 at the Masters means he’s only going in one direction.
Harvey: Beware the injured golfer and all that. Day for me, even if he won’t be able to lift the trophy…
And, if it’s not the same answer, who do you want to win?
Dan: I suppose the answer is Tiger. Let’s ride this wave.
Steve: We can have a proper Tiger Slam still, right? If he wins the PGA, the whole game goes off. I’d love to see him pick up No. 16 in front of a New York crowd.
Hannah: I would love to see Jordan Spieth complete the Grand Slam at Bethpage.
Alex: Spieth first, Tiger second. Probably Fleetwood third.
Mark: Fleetwood, all day every day. Or Pepperell. Rory would be great. Then I move my allegiances to Spieth.
Joe: As usual I’ll be rooting for Ian Poulter.
Harvey: Rich Beem tees it up in one tournament every year. The 2002 champion will be well rested and gunning for another Wanamaker.
And finally, where will Tiger finish?
Mark: The cosy answer, which I stick to like glue, is ‘top 10, threaten for a bit and then fall away’. My other general response is that, even after the hullabaloo at Augusta, Woods winning still wouldn’t thrill me like Rory or even Spieth. But you’d be an absolute clown to even suggest that he won’t be primed and pumped for this, he’s a complete one-off so why not? Could you imagine Pebble Beach if he did…
Harvey: This is Tiger’s world and we’re all living in it. He’ll bring the roars on Sunday and have a putt to win in that famous red mock turtleneck.
Alex: For the Masters I said he’d threaten on Saturday to get us all excited before finishing T6. So I’ll say that again and see if it works.
Steve: Tiger’s all about ‘reps’ so it’s a little worrying he hasn’t played since the Masters. If he can start well then top 10 but, if he’s a bit rusty, it’s more likely he’ll settle for a mid-division position.
Joe: The rest will have done his back some good. He’ll be in the last few groups on Sunday finishing and hold on for a top 10.
Hannah: I can’t see him finishing outside the top-25 but he has had a long time off so you never know.
Dan: In this new world of one major per month from April to July, we are going to have to accept having little in the way of recent form to work with from many of the world’s best players in the build-up to both the PGA and probably the US Open to an extent as well. Tiger is one of a few who haven’t been seen since Augusta so it’s hard to know to what extent he has been deservedly celebrating and savouring his win. In the old days, there was very little of that – it was business as usual as soon as the next major hove into view. I’m going to say that Tiger is taking this PGA very seriously indeed so there’s no reason to think he won’t contend. However, this type of course is not going to suit him quite as much as Augusta or an Open venue (in kindly weather). I’ll predict a respectable top 20 but no real prospect of a 16th major just yet.