We’re still catching our breath from the epic Henrik Stenson-Phil Mickelson duel at Royal Troon, and here we are about to tee off for the PGA Championship. The Olympics, featuring golf for the first time in 112 years, has condensed the calendar this year. This year marks the first time since 1971 the PGA has not been staged in August.
So who has the momentum heading into Baltusrol? Here are our top picks – some favorites and dark horses:
Phil Mickelson – How can you not like Philly Mick after that gutsy British Open performance? The last time Baltusrol hosted the PGA Championship (2005), Mickelson won wire-to-wire. He has three runner-up finishes this year, so it’s only a matter before he converts. And his locked-in short game will serve him well.
Sergio Garcia – Remember when he said publicly he doesn’t have the game to win a major? How times change. After winning the Byron Nelson, he earned top-five finishes in his last two majors. He ranks third in greens in regulation, so his short irons are empowering his game.
Dustin Johnson – He was a non-factor at Royal Troon, but he was locked in last week in the Canadian Open, finishing second. He has finished among the top 10 in six of the last seven majors, including his U.S. Open win. His confidence can no longer be denied.
Bill Haas – Love rooting for this guy. He finished in the top-10 at Royal Troon, a first for Haas in a major. He has the game, just needs to put four rounds together. All major champions this year have been first-timers. Can the young Haas continue the trend?
Rory McIlroy – He’s winless on the PGA Tour this season, so it may be easier to dismiss him. But don’t forget he’s won the PGA twice in the last four years. And he earned top-10 finishes in both the Masters and British Open. He easily could be at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.
Praise for the PGA professionals – One of our favorite things about this tournament is the presence of 20 PGA professionals in the field. This tournament technically has the strongest field of the four majors. And these 20 guys just makes it that much better.
Marc Figueroa is a freelance writer who has been covering golf in San Diego for more than 20 years.