This place is Green
There are two main conversation points this week in Rochester: the conditions and the course. For the opening narrative, let's concentrate on the conditions. Ninety-nine of the Top 100 in the OWGR have descended upon northwestern New York to decide the season's second major championship. Oak Hill Country Club's East Course will be the venue for the 105th PGA Championship.
Nestled near downtown Rochester, this 36-hole facility has hosted three PGA Championships (1980, 2003, 2013) and the Ryder Cup (1995) for the PGA of America. Designed by Donald Ross just over 100 years ago the course was recently renovated by Andrew Green.
- The par 70 scorecard measures 7,394 yards.
- There are seven par 4s stretching over 460 yards, two par 3s over 230 yards, and each of the two par 5s is over 615 yards!
- The course has 79 bunkers, 45 of which surround the greens.
- There are eight holes where water comes into play.
The purse and winning prize won't be announced until Sunday. That will be about the same time we have the weather figured out. The forecast calls for three seasons worth of weather: fall, winter, and spring. Thursday morning there could be a frost delay, yet by Friday afternoon the weather will be back in the 70s. Rain is predicted for Saturday. With a 30-40% chance of accumulation around .25", the firm surfaces we are experiencing right now will get softer.
We are next to one of the five Great Lakes and therefore do expect some wind to challenge these guys. Throw in those 40 and 50 degree temperatures and I hope they packed accordingly. Historically, the PGA also requires you to pack some birdies.
- The average winning score in the last ten years is 11.6 under par, and over the last five, 9.6 under par.
- The winner's pre-tournament average odds over the last decade are +5200.
- Only two of the last ten winner's possessed pre-tournament odds over +3500 (Jimmy Walker and Phil Mickelson).
- Two men have earned two titles in the last ten (Justin Thomas 2017, 22, Brooks Koepka 2018, 19).
Kerry Haigh (Chief Championships Officer, PGA) will certainly take advantage of this test to keep the average score trending downward. Between the cold/damp weather and the newly renovated venue, I believe these guys will have their hands full. The place is unbelievably green. These northern grasses are blooming with vigor and cannot wait to strangle the dreams of an inconsistent competitor. A few always figure it out, but for the most part, we will see players struggle this week. Those who will excel on this traditional test are listed in the outrights section.
There are a number of pressure filled storylines building this week. Can LIV players continue to contend in major championships? Will Rory return? Which of the great players "to not have won a major" will break through? The PGA Championship is a celebration of all the fun golf has to offer. Enjoy the endless PSAs while the world's best is mired in the grips of an extreme test providing us all endless amounts of engaging golf entertainment.
The PGA Championship starts in...
A well-rounded affair
Andrew Green's team enhanced this wonderful layout. By modernizing Donald Ross' original design, he has paid homage to the past all while making this a fabulous modern test. There are five changes which really define the difference between this PGA layout and the one we witnessed in 2013.
- Over six hundred trees were removed from the course. This has significantly opened different sight lines and given the players plenty to consider on their tee shots. Aggressive driver play is being encouraged and will differentiate you from the field. There are only two par 5s on this course. Players will have to attack somewhere, and the driver will be the key to grabbing those opportunities.
- Green's team made the greens bigger. In doing so, he flattened the surfaces and increased the number of hole locations available. Along the edges he created runoffs where built up edges used to be. Watch as more balls roll off the putting surfaces. Over 60% of approaches at Oak Hill come in from over 175 yards. Exceptional long iron play is required if you want the Wannamaker on Sunday.
- The bunkers have been enhanced and the faces are interesting. Truly a penalty area, the ball can fall into the bunker or in many cases you will see it hang along the edges. There will be a highlight reel of hamstring stretch positions taken by players hitting from these steep edges. On a layout that favors power, the most impressive skill just might be the short game.
- Some of the field remains from a decade ago. Those memories won't help when it comes to historic hole locations. Kerry Haigh's vision will include plenty of new subtle spots where only the best putters can capitalize. The viscous swales and extreme back to front contours were easier to read. This will be a new experience for everyone. Separate yourself with the flatstick and convert those birdie opportunities.
- A par 70 - 7,400 examination requires power. A deft touch is needed near the hole, but each of the last nine winners has averaged over 300 on the PGA TOUR the season they won. Consider the cold conditions they face; the possibility of significant rain and that strength requirement only becomes more essential.
These five enhanced characteristics build us a prototype player. One who can launch their long irons high and soft to play the 230-yard plus par 3s. A guy with enough power to handle the 600-0yard par 5s and still score around the green. Lastly, I love to look at par 4 scoring. Win the par 4 test and you will surely be relevant on Sunday. The well-rounded skill required to birdie those holes is exactly what defines our outright list for the season's second major championship.
Outright winners - PGA Championship
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Read between the lines
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This is major!
I will be adding editorial content to the PGA Championship website all week. By the time you are reading this, four or five articles will have been posted covering the tournament. Keep the website bookmarked as the content will continue through Sunday.
|PGA Championship betting coverage|
The Championship course from a PGA perspective
The PGA TOUR's betting brand Golfbet publishes my PGA course perspective each week. Oak Hill's East Course is the subject for the PGA Championship. Check out the feature article on the world's most searched golf website!
|Golfbet Oak Hill preview|
The season's second major.
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