The general consensus seems to be that Hazeltine will play as a bomber’s course because of the insanely long 7600 yards that is written on the scorecard. Most of the players, though seem to think it will play more in the neighborhood of 72-7300 yards because of tee switching and dry conditions.
It is impossible to judge how the course will play on one tournament 7 years ago, but the leaderboard shook out quite differently from a pure bombers set-up.
Yeah, Tiger, Vijay, Sergio and Stewart Cink all finished in the top-10. Not sure if that is mainly because they are long hitters or were generally good golfers in 2002. Probably the latter.
On the other hand, Rich Beem won. Chris Riley, Fred Funk, Justin Leonard, Rocco Mediate and Mark Calcavecchia, rounded out spots 3-7. I wouldn’t consider any of them long hitters.
What does this tell us? Well, anyone can probably do well here. This leaderboard actually reminds me a lot of Bethpage, in that it was dominated by the super-talented players and then the shorter straighter ball strikers.
One more thing, I’ve heard from a few places that the PGA Championship lends itself to “surprise” winners more than the other majors. That is because the simple fact that the PGA has the deepest field in major championship golf. At the US Open and British, there are a ton of guys that simply have no shot at winning. Here almost everyone in the field can contend (except maybe J.D.)
I still really have no idea who I like to win this week, but I’ll be breaking down the pretenders and contenders over the next few days.