By News Team
4th August 2020
Although often regarded as the ‘fourth’ Major of the golfing calendar, this year’s PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park is perhaps the most hotly anticipated for some time.
There are so many subplots to the opening gambit of 2020, including the rise of Bryson DeChambeau whose power off the tee has got the world talking, while the battle at the top of the world rankings is another huge talking point. Justin Thomas currently sits at the head of affairs. His win in Memphis last week saw him overtake Jon Rahm, but given there have been 26 changes in the last six years, it’s anyone’s guess who will end the year as the world’s best.
Thomas and Koepka deserve favouritism
It’s more than fair that both Thomas and Brooks Koepka head into the four days at Harding Park as the favourites and given both played so well last week – they finished first and in a tie for second – quotes of 10/1 look justifiable.
As we all know, Koepka seems to come alive in the Majors as shown by recent form figures of 4-2-1-2-1. He had been pretty out of sorts prior to that performance in Memphis, but he looked much more the player we’ve been accustomed to in recent seasons and if it hadn’t been for a cold putter, he would probably have won.
Thomas, searching for his second Major title after winning the 2017 PGA, will surely be riding the crest of a wave after his victory last week and in doing so lifted himself to the top of the world golf rankings again. He’s been in pretty handy form in the past couple of months with four top 10s in his last six events, including that win, but he hasn’t properly contended in a Major since that win at Quail Hollow and he’ll be keen to change that this week.
Mr Consistent can claim second Major
Koepka and Thomas are expected to go well and will surely contend if they can bring their form from last week to Harding Park, but it’s another player seeking his second Major win in WEBB SIMPSON at 28/1 who gets the headline vote.
Although the 2015 WGC Match-Play was played at Harding Park as well the 2009 Presidents Cup, we haven’t got an awful lot to go with in terms of familiarity about the San Francisco course. However, one course that might correlate well is the Olympic Club, which sits across the lake from Harding Park and was designed by Willie Watson and Sam Whiting. The last time a Major was played at Olympic in 2012 it was won by none other than Simpson and one of the game’s most consistent and best players is fancied to go well again in San Fran.
Since the start of the 2018 season, Simpson has played in 57 tournaments on the PGA Tour and has made the cut in a hugely impressive 51 of them. He’s made the top 25 on 38 occasions, while he’s finished in the top 10 21 times, but despite such consistency many didn’t see Simpson as a top player because he didn’t win enough. However, in 10 events so far this season he’s gone a long way to quashing those claims with two wins at the Phoenix Open and RBC Heritage.
He played well last week and although he was never in serious contention, four rounds in the 60s showed the game is very much where it needs to be. The stats point to a strong showing too with 17 of the last 20 winners having already won an event prior to success in this event, while Koepka’s win in 2018 meant he became the 12th winner in a row to have finished in the top 28 meaning it’s evident that strong recent form is massive plus coming into this.
Might be Jason’s Day again
Another player who is coming into form at the right time is JASON DAY and the Australian looks of interest at 40/1. He arrives in California after a trio of top-eight finishes and given his approach play and putting were much better last week than they have been for a while, the signs are good that the 32-year-old is close to being back to his best.
He’ll be glad to be coming back to the west coast where he’s twice been a winner at Torrey Pines – another course that matches up well to Harding Park – while he’s regularly played well at Pebble Beach. Despite his fall in the world rankings, Jason still finishes in the top 10 40 percent of the time in Majors and it could finally be the day he shows he’s back amongst golf’s elite by winning his second PGA Championship title.