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After successfully tipping Brooks Koepka to break through at the US Open, I was admittedly way off the mark when Jordan Spieth outlasted Matt Kuchar at Royal Birkdale.
Quail Hollow goes from PGA Tour venue to hosting a Major this week, and I’ve already written that all the signs are pointing towards Rory McIlroy. But outside of McIlroy and Jordan Spieth – who is chasing a career slam – there are still other options to be considered down the stretch on Sunday.
Alongside McIlroy, Fowler is another who has very fond memories of Quail Hollow. His win in 2012 – his first PGA Tour victory – came two years after McIlroy, but it did involve a playoff win over the Northern Irishman. His form has been a little patchy, but he has three top 10s in his last three starts. Yes, he does flatter to deceive at times, but with two very good Major performances this season, maybe the PGA Championship (think YE Yang, David Toms, Shaun Micheel, Rich Beem and Keegan Bradley) is where he finally gets it done.
Hardly a genius pick, I know, but his name is irresistible after his WGC-Bridgestone exploits. One of the hottest golfers all year, Matsuyama shot 61 when he was swinging badly on Sunday – his words, not mine. Imagine what he’s capable of if he swings it well? His Major record has gone from iffy to in-form and he is well placed to go one better than his second at the US Open earlier in the year.
Another one, like Fowler, a young guy who is capable of going really low and hits it an absolute mile. Thomas is a future Major winner, and that future might be as soon as Sunday. He could well surprise this week as he looks to reverse a terrible run of 3 missed cuts in four events. Like Matsuyama, he has a few wins under his belt and a top 10 at the US Open – albeit that included a poor final round.
Noticed the trend yet? This week is bound to favour big-hitters, and there are not many that can top the Belgian in that department. Blown away by Matsuyama at the WGC, Pieters has enough in the rest of his game to get over that disappointment by taking the PGA back to Europe. He’s never played the course before, but he doesn’t expect that to be a problem. ‘Rory, Dustin and guys like that have a similar game to me and they do well around there. I’ll just hit to similar spots and be fine,’ he said. Good enough for me.
*Beyond these four, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau should be in for a good week