SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, N.J. – It’s almost hard to believe the year’s final major championship is here but the PGA Championship at Baltusrol is ready to roll.
Henrik Stenson is still sipping champagne from the Claret Jug but now he and the others must deal with the big demands of Baltusrol, which is a classic old Northeastern course with plenty of length, trees and possibilities.
The major championship theme this year has been first-time winners – Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson and Stenson. Does another first-time complete the set this week?
Here are five picks for the PGA Championship:
5. Phil Mickelson: After his disappointment at Troon, Mickelson said he’s excited that there wasn’t a long break before the PGA Championship. His swing is better than it’s been in years and his confidence level is soaring as well. It’s been 11 years since he won his only PGA here. If he can keep holing putts, he can win at Baltusrol again.
4. J.B. Holmes: Here’s another potential first-time major winner. Holmes finished T3 in the Masters and T4 at the Open Championship. Yes, he missed the cut the U.S. Open but with his power, he can attack Baltrusol differently than many players and he seems ready to make a real run at winning a major.
3. Henrik Stenson: After what he did at Royal Troon there’s no way to look past Stenson. He’ll rely on his 3-wood off the tee and there’s not a sharper iron player. When Stenson gets on a roll, it tends to last a while. He’s on a serious roll right now.
2. Sergio Garcia: He’s a perfect pick to complete the first-time winner scenario. Garcia is quietly playing very well with three straight top-5 finishes since winning the AT&T Byron Nelson event in May. His PGA Championship record hasn’t been good recently but Garcia seems to be in a good place on and off the course which usually means good things for him.
1. Dustin Johnson: Why overthink things? Since the Memorial Tournament, Johnson’s finishes have been: 3-5-1-1-T9-T2. With his power, Baltrusrol’s length isn’t an issue and with the confidence Johnson has these days, it’s possible he could ascend to No. 1 in the world by winning the Wanamaker Trophy.