The 99th US PGA Championship begins today at Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since 2003 the Quail Hollow Course has played host to the Wels Fargo Championship (other than 2017 as the course was prepared for the US PGA) which will mean that mot PGA Tour players will be familiar with the 7,600+ yard, par 71 course. Since the last Wells Fargo Championship was held in 2016 however, four holes have had fairly major reconstructions and the grass has been changed from rye grass to Bermuda grass which will mean that the course will be a different beast to that which most of the players are used to.
The Quail Hollow Course’s extreme length means that big hitters have a substantial advantage whilst playing this course and you will find a number of the biggest hitters using their driver from the tee more regularly than at any other course.
Whilst distance off the tee is an absolute must to perform well at this course, accuracy is also required, the best example being the 344 yard par 4 14th which is sure to see some drama across the weekend. The relatively short yardage will encourage a number of players (particularly those chasing to make the cut or chasing the win on Sunday) to take a risk and go for the green. The hole slopes heavily from right to left into the large lake and the trees pinch out the fairway to a narrow neck just before the green. If the players are brave and accurate then the hole presents an eagle opportunity, but if they are not accurate enough then it can be a real tournament wrecker.
Another interesting hole on the course is the 249 yard par 3 6th hole. Whilst the distance sounds daunting, the hole is played downhill and the distance is not the main challenge for the players. The contours around the green and on the green itself mean that it will take a very well hit tee shot to hold the green and the players chipping/long range putting will be tested across the weekend.
Obviously, given the length of the course, traditional major winning big hitters such as Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Jordan Speith and Brooks Koepka and nearly men such as Hideki Matsuyama and Rikki Fowler dominate the bookmakers favourite lists. Rory McIlroy is perhaps in the best position to add to his major tally with a recent decent run of form and a two time previous champion at Quail Hollow.
Outside the 6 mentioned above, we expect Thomas Pieters to continue his hot streak and add to his tally of 4 top 5s already this season. With excellent performances in a number of championships this season Charley Hoffman also has an outside chance of taking the title come Sunday. Daniel Berger has already won once this season and as a Bermuda grass specialist should be in contention across the weekend. Webb Simpson is a member of Quail Hollow and lives next to the course which should provide him with an advantage over a number of other players in the field, but the bookmakers do not seem to have picked up on this and he remains an excellent value pick. Lastly, as a previous champion and one of the top players of this generation, Phil Mickleson can never be written off, and at 66/1 it seems like a no brainer.
Rory McIlroy – 11/2
Hideki Matsuama – 11/1
Jordan Speith – 12/1
Dustin Johnson – 14/1
Rickie Fowler – 16/1
Brooks Koepka – 22/1
Charley Hoffman – 40/1
Daniel Berger – 50/1
Thomas Peiters – 50/1
Phil Mickelson – 66/1
Webb Simpson – 125/1