Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Valhalla I Am Coming

We've made it.  Three majors down and now it is time for "Glory's last shot."  The PGA Championship returns to Valhalla for the first time since Tiger Woods defeated the unheralded Bob May in a three-hole playoff in 2000.  That was arguably one of the best PGA Championships of all time, so this year's version has got a lot to live up to.  Right now, it is uncertain if Tiger will even be playing this year; but even if he does, he won't factor much into the outcome.  Right now all the buzz is about the rise of Rory, and it has this blogger looking back into the history books to find Rory's place in history.  Let's examine that, while also figuring out who is going to contend this week.

Valhalla Golf Club was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is your prototypical Nicklaus Course.  Narrow fairways, thick rough, and difficult approaches to greens.  In 2000, Tiger and Bob May went one and two in greens in regulation for the week.  That is the key at Valhalla; get it on, get it in.  If you miss the greens you are in big trouble.  Because of this, I think the guy that wins is going to be a big-hitter.

Obviously, Rory is going to be the favorite going into the PGA Championship.  He won the British Open, and won at the Bridgestone Invitational last week.  All of the reporters this week have been asking if it is time for the "Rory Era" in light of his dominance and Tiger's struggles.  That got me thinking; "I really don't like Rory."  Then I went on to think, maybe history is repeating itself a little bit.  It seems that every ten years, a truly great golfer comes around: Walter Hagen (born 1892), Bobby Jones (born 1902), Ben Hogan (born 1912),  Arnold Palmer (born 1929), Jack Nicklaus (born 1940), Tom Watson (born 1949), Fred Couples (born 1959), Phil and Tiger (born 1970 and 1975), now Rory (born in 1989).  The only holes there are in 1920s and the early 80s (but we will count Tiger for that one).  So maybe Rory is the one to carry the torch.  If so, I am hoping people from my generation still root for Tiger.  Much like "Arnie's Army" of the 1950s and 60s hated Jack Nicklaus, the older generation should despise the new kid on the block.  You know, the whole age suppressing youth thing.  Hopefully Tiger's team can witness a few more wins for the greatest of all-time before the young kid takes over the reins.  Now, who's gonna win this thing?

Rory McIlroy: Odds on favorite.  Absolutely locked in.  A big hitter that can make big putts.  I'd be surprised if he doesn't win.

Bubba Watson: Another bomber that could carve this course up if he can stay in the fairway.  Putting will be the challenge for him.  Over/under on televised glares at his caddie: 4.5

Rickie Fowler: Not a bomber per se, but with top-5s in every major so far I'm hoping he can get over the hump at the PGA.  He and Spieth are our only hopes at the Ryder Cup too.

Jordan Spieth: Played here in the junior Ryder Cup and played well.  Also was raised by a great family: father went to Lehigh, mother went to Moravian.

Sergio Garcia: Has never hit the ball better in his life.  I would venture so far as to say he "deserves" to win a major at this point.  I even rooted for him at the British Open.  God I feel sick.

Keegan Bradley: Played well last week and can bomb it.

SLEEPERS:
John Daly: Long John can still hit the ball a mile.  Miss this guy.

J.B. Holmes: MY OLD KENTUCKY HOLMES!

Phil Mickelson: Not really a sleeper, but Mick threw a 62 on the board on Sunday.  Maybe he figured something out.