2014 PGA Championship Preview

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Valhalla Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus in 1986, and is ranked the 99th in America’s Top Golf Courses. The most famous hole on the course is the 13th, which is a dogleg left that forces the golfers to put down the driver for a hole. In the 2008 Ryder Cup the tee was moved forward to 300 yards from the hole, yet no golfers went for the hole since the green is an island, and the risk was too large. The course has hosted 2 PGA championships, 2 Senior PGA Championships, and the 2008 Ryder Cup. While there are a lot of golfers to watch this year, Tiger Woods will probably not be one of them, due to his injury at the Bridgestone Invitational.  However, there are plenty of top competitors in this year’s field. Here are Thuuz‘s picks for the top 5 five contenders in the 2014 PGA Championship.

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5. Adam Scott- He was the Number 1 golfer in the world until just a week ago, and has finished in the top 15 for every major. Scott has been playing great golf all year, and you can expect him to show up to play for the championship.

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4. Rickie Fowler- Even though Fowler hasn’t won a tournament in 58 starts, he has finished in the top 5 in the last 3 majors. The last time someone finished in the top 5 of three majors was Tiger Woods in 2005. After finishing second at both the US Open and the British Open, Fowler has a great chance at taking a top spot this year at Valhalla.

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3. Sergio Garcia- With 3 straight second place finishes, Garcia has been on fire recently and there’s no reason that he shouldn’t do well in this upcoming tournament. With 4 top ten finishes in the PGA, Valhalla may be the place where Garcia could finally take home his first major trophy.

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2. Jim Furyk- Even though Furyk hasn’t won in 4 years, Valhalla could be the place where he turns his game around. After a successful week in the 2008 Ryder Cup, Furyk knows the course, and should use that to his advantage.  He also has 5 top ten finishes in his last 9 starts, so he has a good chance to do well in this tournament. Furyk has also already locked in a spot for the Ryder Cup.

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1. Rory McIlroy- He’s come in first place in each of his last two starts, and won the PGA Championship by 8 strokes in 2012. Mcilroy is coming into Valhalla as the top player in the world, which is one of the main reasons why he is the most likely to win the PGA Championship at Valhalla in 2014.

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US Open Preview

For the first time since 2005, the U.S. Open Championship is back at Pinehurst #2, North Carolina. This return segues perfectly into the biggest storyline of the tournament: can six-time U.S. Open runner-up Phil Mickelson, who placed second for the first time at Pinehurst in 1999, finally come out on top? A win here would cement Mickelson’s career Grand Slam, a loss could put the achievement out of reach forever. Lefty remains confident. As he said to Rick Reilly, “I’m going to win at least one US Open, maybe two.”
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Without Tiger Woods, TV ratings are sure to plunge (1.3 million viewers were lost last year, in large part due to his absence), but dramatic golf is ensured nonetheless. The odds-on favorite is Rory McIlroy, who has finished in the top 10 of 8 out of 11 of his 2014 tournaments. For those who think McIlroy’s abrupt split from fiancee Caroline Wozniacki might affect his chances, fear not, last month he won the BMW PGA Championship, when the break-up was even more recent. McIlroy favors long drives, to which Pinehurst is extremely friendly.
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World #1 Adam Scott enters the tournament with just slightly lower odds than McIlroy. Coming off a win at Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and fourth place tie at the Memorial Tournament, Scott is looking for his 4th win in the last year, and 2nd Major victory. He’ll face strong competition from 2013’s champion, Justin Rose, who has finished in the top 10 at five out of 11 tournaments this year and aims to repeat.
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Another top contender to keep an eye on is Jimmy Walker, whose red hot 2014 includes 3 victories and a first place ranking in FedEx Cup points. Even more red hot than Walker is 20-year old Jordan Spieth, who made it to the final groups of both the Players Championship the Masters, where he tied for second. Spieth is ranked 10th in the world and fifth in FedEx Cup points. Victory at Pinehurst would elevate him to the same level as Woods or McIlroy.

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Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day are all top players that could break away with a win. Kuchar is generally seen as one of the best to never win a major, and with one win and nine top-10 finishes, he may have the momentum to change that. Garcia and Johnson bring years of experience, while Johnson and Day are two of the game’s strongest when it comes to driving distance. Day has also tied for second in the Masters and placed second in the U.S Open in 2013.
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Younger golfers to keep an eye out for are Hideki Matsuyama, Chris Kirk and Patrick Reed, who classified himself as one of the “top five players in the world.” All these different names being in the mix leads to one undeniable fact—heading into this year’s Open, it’s all up for grabs. Even those who have experience on the course won’t retain much of an advantage, as the Pinehurst #2 has been restored to its 1901 appearance.

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Fans looking for scenic green lawns will be let down, there is no rough whatsoever on the new—er, scratch that—old course. Off of the greens and fairways, natural vegetation will reign supreme. Perhaps that untamed wilderness is the most fitting metaphor for this year’s field of competitors.